Having a great quarterback has a lot of benefits. Pretty much the only downside off the top of my head is that it’s eventually going to cost you a lot, both in terms of salary cap and actual cash. But there are also a lot of intangible benefits that can help transform a team and culture.
Former wide receiver Greg Jennings believes that Joe Burrow will provide that for the Cincinnati Bengals. Specifically, he argues on The Herd with Colin Cowherd that the former first-overall pick is going to help make them a free agency destination.
“The Cincinnati Bengals with acquiring Joe Burrow as their pick last season, they’re going to attract so many guys now because we all see the potential in Joe Burrow”, he said, as transcribed by James Rapien of Sports Illustrated. “He has nowhere near Aaron’s level as far as his resume, but we see something there and that’s going to attract you. When you have a piece at that position that is so very important and valuable — that can be the determining factor of whether a free agent comes or he goes and turns around and goes the other way”.
The Bengals have actually been spenders in free agency over the course of the past two seasons, which is a deviation from their norm — and not because they don’t have cap space, or because they couldn’t find anybody willing to come to Cincinnati. Mike Brown just didn’t want to spend.
Last season, for example, the Bengals signed D.J. Reader and Trae Waynes, among others, as outside free agents. They added more this year, such as Chidobe Awuzie, Trey Hendrickson, and of course, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ own former nickel defender Mike Hilton.
Truthfully, it’s tough to gauge how much anything except money is a factor in free agency, and not just because it varies heavily from player to player. Obviously there are those who want to prioritize the opportunity to win. When you have a franchise quarterback, you’re always in the hunt.
The Bengals aren’t there yet. They went 2-7-1 in Burrow’s 10 starts last year before he tore his ACL, of course, but he played better than the record would indicate. If he can bring them to a winning record this year, however, that would certainly be noted by future free agents. But they already say the right things after signing now.
“Being in the AFC North, I’ve kept an eye on them”, Hilton said after he signed, for example. “They drafted Joe Burrow last year. They definitely have a franchise quarterback to build around, so I’m excited to play with him. I felt like it was the right fit for me”.
Just drafting a ‘franchise’ quarterback doesn’t provide an overnight turnaround, of course. When you’re a team who is organically in the position to draft first overall, you have a lot of issues that you have to sort out in order to become a contender. But starting with the quarterback as the cornerstone is a good way to go about it.