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No, the Buffalo Bills aren’t playing with fire by waiting to extend Josh Allen

Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk generates clicks and makes money with great headlines and big opinions. Give people something to react to and they will have a reaction, good or bad, and that’s what you want when writing a column. His latest opinion is flat wrong and I want to tell Buffalo Bills fans why.

“The Bills will be playing with fire if they wait until 2022 to extend Josh Allen’s contract.”

It’s a great click-worthy headline. I clicked. I read. It didn’t get better. Here’s where I really decided I needed to speak out:

“If Allen has an MVP season, the price goes up next year. Way up. And Allen would have every right, as he moves a year closer to free agency, to say to the Bills, ‘You had your chance to do the right thing last year. You knew what could happen if you didn’t.’”

Josh Allen had an MVP season in 2020. He already did that thing. He is already going to set the market with his new deal. Dak Prescott is making $40 million per season on his four-year deal. If Allen has an MVP season in 2021, is he going to be signing for $50 million per season? That kind of jump would seem to be out of the question, getting 125 percent of what the last guy received.

Albert Breer, formerly of PFT, chimed in with his take, as well:

Teams generally make hard decisions on QBs post-Year 3.

• 12 QBs went in the first round from 2013-17.

• 4 of the 12 signed market-shifting extensions.

• All 4 came after Year 3.

• Of the other 8, just 1 got a 2nd deal with his team.

• That 1? Blake Bortles.

This information is meant to seem like teams that believe in their QB just automatically get a deal done after Year 3. (Even if Carson Wentz and Jared Goff never played a snap in their extension) Allen and the Bills have several things to deal with that those other teams never did.

For starters, those QBs selected from 2013 to 2017 didn’t have to worry about the COVID-19 salary cap. Without butts in the stands and folks not spending money last year, the salary cap dropped significantly in 2020 and rebounded slightly in 2021. It put a strain on every team’s cap, meaning tougher or delayed choices are inevitable. That’s not to say it will prevent the Bills from paying Allen, but it could force them to wait one more year.

Another big reason is a change in the CBA enacted in 2020. Allen has two more guaranteed years left on his deal (as Florio mentioned later in his opinion piece). The fifth-year option is fully guaranteed and can’t be rescinded. That change disincentivizes both sides because deadlines spur action, and it pushed their deadline out a year. Allen is under contract through the end of the 2022 season and even without going to the franchise tag (eww), Buffalo has two years to get the new deal done.

Sure, waiting for Baker Mayfield or Lamar Jackson to sign his deal might bring up Allen’s number, but by how much? Dak Prescott signed for $1 million per year more than Deshaun Watson. So Watson is at 39 per year, Dak at 40, Baker at 41, and Lamar at 42... is Allen at 43-45 out of line? No. It’s not like he’s going to jump up to $50 million per year by waiting one offseason as we discussed above.

The reality is that the Bills have their QB under contract for two more seasons and with salary cap restrictions, they don’t really need to lock him up right now. They can wait until midway through the season to make sure he is the real deal or do it after the season to push the cap hit further into the future.

Both sides could also just agree on the deal I laid out for them this offseason and cut me a small 2 percent negotiating fee.