AFC Notes: Joe Burrow, Bengals, Ravens, Steelers


The Browns’ decision to give QB Deshaun Watson a new deal with all five years fully guaranteed will have ripple effects for years as other quarterbacks do their deals. In that mix is Bengals QB Joe Burrow, who already has a trip to the Super Bowl under his belt in his second season. It’ll be interesting to see how the Bengals handle those negotiations as a team that’s typically hesitant to hand out large sums of guaranteed cash.  

“All contracts can have a ripple effect,” Bengals EVP Katie Blackburn said via the Athletic’s Jay Morrison. “I haven’t looked at the (Watson) contract closely enough, so I don’t know if there’s ways the guarantees can void if certain things happen. Maybe that’s not something that can happen. We’ll see. I have not had the chance to really study it yet or look at it to be fair. It’s on my list but I’m behind.”

Typically the preferred contract structure by Cincinnati limits guarantees to just the signing bonus and the first year of the deal. That will be hard to maintain with some of the extensions the team has coming down the pipe in coming years. Blackburn explained their philosophy. 

“I don’t focus on the guaranteed as much because in theory, if the player gets the money at the end of the day, that’s what’s important to him,” she said. “So if the player is good enough and plays out the contract, he gets the money. The thing that has always given us some pause is if for some reason things go badly. It’s not fair for the team in the future if there’s a large amount of money going to someone else with the way system works today. So we’ve always tried to balance that out. But we work in a world where we realize other contracts have some effects, so we’ll just have to see where that all stands when it comes to be that time. At some point, we’re going to pay the cap amount, so we just have to find a way to make that work that’s in the best interest of the team.”


Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti downplayed the idea of QB Lamar Jackson being more prone to injury because of his style as a runner. Jackson did get hurt and miss the final month of the season but Bisciotti points out his injury came while trying to throw the ball and other major QB injuries in the past two seasons have come from the pocket. 

“Oh, Lamar is more susceptible? He is not,” Bisciotti said via ESPN’s Jamison Hensley. “These guys are banging their hands on a helmet and missing six games, like Drew Brees. You know what I mean? Burrow wasn’t running. He was in the pocket. He gets crushed and he tears his ACL. That running quarterback, a higher propensity of injury, people have like staked that as a has-to-be, and I don’t know that anybody has ever backed it up by any kind of study. I just don’t know that anybody has ever done that. Have you ever seen it? They talk about it like it’s gospel, like if you’re a running quarterback, you’re more susceptible to injury. It’s like, show me. Show me the stats. I’ve never seen them.”


Steelers LB Devin Bush had a rough year in 2021, perhaps due to the torn ACL he suffered in 2020. Pittsburgh has a decision to make on his fifth-year option which will be telling but HC Mike Tomlin is at least publicly backing Bush. 

“I think it’s very reasonable to expect significant improvement in young players, particularly in his circumstance of being 12 months off his injury and putting that behind him,” Tomlin said via the Athletic’s Mark Kaboly. “I’m just excited about him getting back out there and having a clean bill of health throughout the team development process and not being a component of team development or his individual readiness.”

  • Kaboly is doubtful the Steelers will part with draft picks to trade up for a quarterback like Liberty’s Malik Willis, though he does get the sense Pittsburgh likes Willis. 
  • In addition to Tyrann Mathieu and Terrell Edmunds, Kaboly highlights former Browns S Ronnie Harrison as a player the Steelers might be interested in to fill their opening at strong safety. 
  • Kaboly mentions former Steelers OT Zach Banner‘s knee still isn’t healthy, which is why he was released. 

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