It's an "exciting time" for quarterbacks like Joe Burrow.
That's the term the Cincinnati Bengals' superstar used to describe the current quarterback contract scramble when he appeared on Today on March 17 alongside former four-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Joe Montana. When the show's hosts asked Burrow to comment on Aaron Rodgers wanting to move his big salary from the Green Bay Packers to the New York Jets and other mega-dollar contract-based activity, Burrow laughed and hesitantly said, "OK" before spilling his thoughts.
"Well, I think it's an exciting time for quarterbacks in the league because the market is getting higher and higher, the dollar value [of contracts] is getting higher and higher, and that's pushing the league forward and guys forward," Burrow said. "There's more and more quarterbacks coming in this day and age that are well equipped to come in an be starters immediately and play well early, and I think that has to do with the way the game is being coached and grown from the youth level. Guys are throwing the ball more, guys are throwing and catching, [wide] receivers are getting better, so it's just an exciting time for the game."
Tens of millions of dollars certainly brings excitement. Burrow, himself, is in negotiations for a big contract extension. Burrow's current contract, which he signed in 2020 out of the draft, expires in 2024 and is worth more than $36 million per year. The quarterback, who has said that he wants to remain a Bengal for life and contend for a Super Bowl title each year, is expected to sign a contract extension over the summer, with some experts saying it could come as early as April. Some experts also predict that the contract could be close to $50 million annually for five or six seasons, making Burrow one of the NFL's highest-paid players at the position. Spotrac puts Burrow's market value at $44 million.
During the NFL Combine earlier in March, Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin said that keeping Burrow and wide receiver Tee Higgins – who also is under much speculation – on the team was a priority and likely will happen
"He's [Burrow] proven that he is a championship-caliber quarterback," Tobin told reporters.
Burrow also has a championship-caliber role model in Montana to help him get there, the quarterback told Today hosts.
"To be around a guy like him I think is exciting for me because I know he's had all the success in the world that I plan on and want to have in my profession," Burrow said. "And then, he's a great person to hang out with, helps in the community, has a lot of the same values that I have, so it's been a fun couple days to get to know him."
'30,000 pounds of yams'Burrow and Montana were in New York City as part of a partnership with Guinness to package items for food-rescue nonprofit City Harvest. They couldn't do it without a little competition, though.
"You know, we were bagging some sweet potatoes yesterday, and of course this guy [Montana] made it a competition, so we got after it a little bit," Burrow told the Today hosts.
In a separate interview with the New York Stock Exchange, Burrow said that he, Montana and other volunteers packed "about 30,000 pounds of yams" at City Harvest.
During both interviews, Burrow said that his community in Athens – part of Appalachia, a multi-state region where poverty and unemployment rates are much higher than in other parts of the country – is why he gravitates toward helping with food insecurity.
"I'm very excited to be working with them [Guinness] because they give back to the community and food insecurity is a big issue for them. And it's very important to my heart because of where I grew up and people I grew up with. We help a lot of people doing this.
Watch Burrows' Today interview below.
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