Buffalo Bills announce huge six-year contract extension for Josh Allen
ORCHARD PARK – There really shouldn’t have been a shred of doubt about the Josh Allen contract extension getting done this summer.
It had to happen now. Allen and his representatives knew it, and so, too, did Brandon Beane and the Buffalo Bills, even though Beane had insinuated last week that he was in no rush to do so.
Yes, he was.
Coming off a monumental 2020 season, for both the quarterback and the team, the time was right for the Bills to pony up a reported $258 million extension that kicks in starting in 2023 and runs six years through 2028. Surely, the $150 million in guaranteed money Allen will receive, the most ever given to an NFL player, accelerated the process.
Now, all Allen needs to do is live up to what is not only the largest contract in Buffalo sports history, by a whole lot, but one that also makes him the second-highest paid player in NFL history for now in terms of average salary per year.
Once the extension begins, Allen will average $43 million per season which is just behind the $45 million per year that Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes – already a league MVP and Super Bowl champion – agreed to last season.
Allen had to know getting a deal done was in his best interest, given that he plays such a violent sport like football, and one that rarely provides fully-guaranteed contracts. Any day can be your last day, or at least could be your last good day due to an injury. There was simply too much at stake, not only because of the always impending possibility of injury, but even from a performance standpoint.
It sounds crazy to even bring up given the season Allen just had, but what if he took a sizable step back in 2021? What if opposing defenses figure out how to stop him and the Bills dynamic offense and his level of play drops? That lost leverage might have cost him some serious money if the negotiations were put off until 2022.
Instead, Allen struck while his iron was scalding hot, and now he has generational money for his family.
From the Bills’ side of the bargaining table, the opposite was true. What if Allen somehow plays even better in 2021, and/or leads them to a Super Bowl victory? Imagine the price tag then if the negotiations began after that?
So yes, getting the contract hammered out now benefits all involved, and it also keeps everyone happy.
Though details have not been revealed, it is believed that Allen’s salary will remain at about $6.9 million this season counting his base plus roster and signing bonuses. In 2022, he will earn $23 million which was set in place back in May when the Bills exercised the fifth-year option on his original rookie deal. Then in 2023 the extension kicks in for the next six years.
For a franchise that plays in the NFL’s second-smallest market, a contract of this magnitude is not foreign to the Bills.
Back in the Super Bowl era, the Bills made quarterback Jim Kelly, for a short time, the highest-paid player in NFL history with a six-year, $20 million deal in 1990.
In 2012, the Bills gave defensive end Mario Williams what was then the largest contract ever for a defensive player, a six-year, $100 million deal with $49.5 million guaranteed.
They also once gave defensive tackle Marcell Dareus an ill-fated $161 million contract with $96.5 million guaranteed which was the largest in Buffalo sports history until this Allen deal.
The Bills certainly hope Allen gives them a better bang for their buck than Dareus, and that seems entirely possible.
The 6-foot-5, 240-pound quarterback made a quantum leap in 2020, finishing runner-up to Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers in the NFL MVP voting and setting numerous Bills’ single-season passing records.
Obviously, his timing for a breakout season like that could not have been better because there were certainly some questions about who Allen was, and what he could become, after his first two years in the league.
The physical talent was there, but the inconsistency that often plagued him during his college career was plainly evident and there were many fans and media who wondered if he’d ever be able to sharpen that part of his game. There were even whispers around town that if Allen did not make big progress in 2020, the Bills should consider passing on giving him the fifth-year option.
Well, he made anyone who doubted him look foolish when he passed for 4,544 yards and accounted for 46 touchdowns passing, rushing and receiving.
And thus far in training camp, he seems to have picked up right where he left off. He has teammates praising him regularly, including newly-acquired veteran Emmanuel Sanders who said a few days ago that Allen made a throw that almost bugged his eyes out, a throw he’d never seen anyone make.
For a guy who once played with Peyton Manning, Sanders may have been a bit hyperbolic, but probably not by much.
Allen ascended to superstar status in 2020, and given the way the Bills have built their roster under Beane and coach Sean McDermott, there's no reason to believe the success Allen and the Bills enjoyed last season is a one off.
There is sustainability in place, and it would be surprising if Allen does not continue on the path he began carving for himself last year.
Sal Maiorana can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @salmaiorana.