The context surrounding the pull quote from Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane isn't nearly as nefarious as the notion he was firing a heater at the Cincinnati Bengals.
Speaking Tuesday, two days after his club was dismantled 27-10 by the Bengals, Beane was asked what stood as out as the difference in how their rosters are constructed. The GM pointed out that Cincy is taking advantage of having quarterback Joe Burrow and star receiver Ja'Marr Chase on rookie deals.
"They right now are on the advantage of a rookie quarterback contract," Beane said of Cincinnati, via the Bills’ official team website. "And they had some lean years and without getting too much into their build, I don't want to suck bad enough to have to get Ja'Marr Chase. I would love to have him, but you got to go through some lean years to do that. They were able to get Burrow at one, and I don't remember where Chase was drafted, but it was pretty high."
If the word "suck" doesn't escape Beane's mouth, this quote probably goes mostly unnoticed. But it does provide the opportunity to discuss how striking when players are on their rookie deals has become a diving standard in the NFL.
The Bengals drafted Burrow No. 1 overall in 2020. The QB then tore his ACL in Week 11 of his rookie campaign, leading to Cincy "sucking" (4-11-1) enough to earn the No. 5 pick and snag Chase. The Bengals have done a stellar job surrounding their young core with talented players on both sides of the ball. Beane is correct in noting the Bengals are benefitting from Burrow and Chase being on rookie deals. Good teams take advantage of those circumstances.
His own club couldn't take advantage of a similar situation while Josh Allen was on his rookie deal. In 2018 -- his second year -- Beane performed draft leapfrog to snag Allen No. 7 overall. But as the QB was learning, Buffalo struggled out of the gate. The Bills had the No. 9 overall pick in 2019 after a 6-10 record. Beane selected Ed Oliver in that spot. The DT is a good player and has had some solid moments, but you wouldn't call him a game-wrecking force -- particularly after Sunday's struggles against Cincy.
The Bills went to the playoffs twice when Allen was on a rookie contract and have gone twice since he signed his long-term extension. In neither scenario could they get over the hump and into the Super Bowl. After shelling out big money the past couple of seasons, Beane now must figure out how to maneuver the cap to ensure his Lombardi window remains open while keeping his future flexibility.
"We'll be creative, we'll do things," Beane said of his cap maneuvers. "We may have to rework a few contracts. It's not that we're not going to do that. But I also don't want to, in two years, be a hundred million over the cap, like we've seen teams have to do."
The Bengals will soon have to pony up for Burrow, who's eligible for an extension this offseason, and Chase the following year. But in the meantime, they've been to one Super Bowl and will play for a chance to go to another one if Cincy can win on the road against Kansas City.