The Buffalo Bills recognize Josh Allen as their future. Coming off an MVP-caliber season, Buffalo wants to sign its franchise star to a long-term extension ensuring he leads the team for years to come. But now that Dak Prescott has signed his massive deal, it’s going to be even more costly than the Bills expected.
Before the 2020 NFL season even ended, the Bills were making plans to negotiate a long-term commitment to Allen. The organization certainly hoped something would get done before Prescott signed, with one less deal serving as a target for Allen and his representatives.
With so much going on this offseason and Buffalo looking to strengthen its roster through free agency, discussions with Allen were put on the backburner. While negotiations have quieted down, for now, talks could pick up in a matter of months and the final deal could be staggering.
Latest on contract talks between Buffalo Bills, Josh Allen
The Athletic’s Matthew Fairburn, who covers the Buffalo Bills, wrote Wednesday that he expects the team to devote their attention to a contract extension after the 2021 NFL Draft. He also anticipates the front office would rather get a deal signed sooner rather than later.
Teams should feel the pressure to sign their franchise quarterbacks quickly. While the Dallas Cowboys were in a different situation, given Prescott didn’t have a fifth-year option, they are a lesson to other clubs. Dallas applied the $31 million franchise tag to Prescott in 2020, locking him up for one season but giving him all the leverage in future negotiations.
The 27-year-old took advantage of the situation, months after suffering a gruesome leg fracture. With the threat of a $37 million franchise tender looming this offseason and free agency a certain in 2022, Dallas had to cave to its quarterback’s asking price. In the end, he landed $160 million over four seasons, with a record-setting $126 million guaranteed.
Buffalo is in a different spot. Because Allen was a first-round pick, he carries a fifth-year option. The Bills will exercise that this offseason, securing the 24-year-old quarterback through the 2022 season. While a projected $23 million salary in 2022 will be a dramatic spike from his $6.9 million base salary next season, the team will consider it a bargain.
Allen isn’t going to feel the same way. He made less than $6 million this past year on his rookie contract, a figure he easily outplayed. The Bills went 13-3 with him as the starter, behind Allen’s 37-10 TD-INT ratio, 107.2 quarterback rating and 69.2% completion rate. Thanks to his breakout campaign, the third-year quarterback was a second-team All-Pro selection.
Buffalo could be even better in 2021, with a shot to compete for the Super Bowl. The front office wants to avoid falling into the spot Dallas operated from, where the player controlled negotiations. So, signing Allen to a contract extension this offseason seems likely to happen if the quarterback is open to it.
Josh Allen contract projection for the Buffalo Bills
According to Over The Cap, only two quarterbacks in the NFL (Prescott, Patrick Mahomes) have an average salary of $40-plus million annually. Deshaun Watson is close behind at $39 million per season. The Buffalo Bills should think about those figures over the next few months as they prepare for negotiations.
In terms of comparison, Allen can put himself in the conversation with Prescott and Watson. While personal preferences and quarterback rankings might lead to some differences, they can also negotiate on the same tier with their respective clubs. Plus, a stats comparison supports that.
- Dak Prescott stats (last 21 games): 10-11 record, 39-15 TD-INT ratio, 6,758 passing yards, 99.7 passer rating, 65.9% completion rate and 8.3 yards per attempt.
- Deshaun Watson (Final 21 games before extension): 14-7 record, 34-12 TD-INT ratio, 5,420 passing yards, 101.5 passer rating, 69.03% completion rate and 7.84 yards per attempt.
- Josh Allen stats (last 21 games): 15-6 record, 42-11 TD-INT ratio, 5,273 passing yards, 103.1 passer rating, 66.7% completion rate and 7.63 yards per attempt.
We’ll also keep in mind postseason success and accolades. Watson went 1-2 as a starter before signing his four-year, $156 million contract. Prescott is 1-2 in the postseason, with his last victory coming in 2018, and Allen carries a 2-2 record in the NFL Playoffs.
All three quarterbacks have accolades to be proud of. Watson led the NFL in passing yards (4,823) and finished second in passer rating (112.4), despite an awful supporting cast around him Prescott won Offensive Rookie of the year and is a two-time Pro Bowl selection (2016, 2018) and Allen received second-team All-Pro honors this past season.
The Bills will certainly come in under $40-plus million annually, also potentially hoping for a five-year extension. It would be the dream scenario for Buffalo, keeping the franchise star through his age-30 season. But any hope of that happening is almost certainly gone.
Allen’s camp will likely push for $42 million per season on a four-year deal. It would make him the second-highest-paid quarterback in the NFL and make him eligible for free agency before he turns 30. That’s the perfect setup for him to land another monster contract.
Ultimately, the two sides should meet somewhere in the middle. A four-year contract worth $164 million, with $125 million guaranteed, seems like a logical landing spot. Allen gets the contract he wants and the Buffalo Bills will have their star committed to them for years to come. It will take a few months for both parties to reach this point, but this offseason is the perfect time to get a contract done.