Joe Burrow will be the first player selected in the 2020 NFL Draft. I think that largely has been agreed upon. The question that remains, at least to some degree, is which team Burrow will actually play for. And that could be in part up to him, if he really does have a distaste for playing for the Cincinnati Bengals, despite being from Ohio.
The thing is, while Burrow has not said anything to the effect that he wouldn’t play for the Bengals, he also hasn’t said clear that he definitely would, either. Very shortly, perhaps even today, he will stand in front of the podium for the first time in front of an NFL crowd, and he’s basically going to be pressed to answer that question.
There has been so much speculation about what he thinks, including his on-screen reaction to being presented with a Bengals helmet from Boomer Esiason, that it can be hard to digest. He has been directly advised by a former first-overall pick who was taken by a bad team to “pull an Eli Manning”.
He’s surely heard former Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer more or less trashing the team, or more specifically, trashing owner Mike Brown, saying that he’s not invested in winning. It is true that Cincinnati generally uses the least amount of cap space in the league, and if you have so much money left over, you’re not filling your roster with the most amount of talent possible.
Palmer hasn’t spoken directly to Burrow about these things. But perhaps his brother has. Jordan Palmer, a former NFL backup quarterback himself, who has also been on the Bengals, is working with Burrow during the pre-draft process. I imagine they might talk to each other a bit.
If there is no smoke to this story, admittedly, Burrow could have done a bit better job of putting it out. At best, he has left room for interpretation in his comments. He said, for example, “if they select me, they select me, I’m going to do everything in my power to be the best football player I can be”. He didn’t say he would be that for the Bengals.
Personally speaking, I do think this is a non-story. I think the Bengals will draft him and he will play for them and that will be the end of it. And as far as Carson Palmer’s criticism of Mike Brown is concerned, it won’t be long—during the course of Burrow’s rookie contract—that it will become moot.
The next Collective Bargaining Agreement, whether it’s the current proposal or one in the future, is going to include within it terms that raises the cap floor. The cap floor is the minimum amount teams are allowed to spend of their cap room in any given season, and in a three-year window. The current three-year floor is something like 70 percent, I believe. The new proposal, from what I’ve seen, would raise it to 90 percent. So Brown won’t have a choice but to spend.