If and when the season begins, Cincinnati wants the top overall pick in the 2020 draft to come and be successful immediately. In his first news conference since the Bengals selected him, Burrow said he shares the same aspirations in his first season in the NFL.
“Going into my rookie year I expect to play well and I expect to win a lot of games,” Burrow said Friday when asked about reflecting on recent success that includes a Heisman Trophy and a national title. “If I look back now, I’m doing myself a disservice and the team a disservice.”
Burrow’s remarks came after the team announced he had officially signed his four-year rookie contract worth $36.1 million after agreeing to terms earlier this week, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Earlier in the week, Bengals coach Zac Taylor indicated where Burrow sits on the depth chart heading into camp, even if he didn’t explicitly declare the recent Heisman Trophy winner as the team’s Week 1 starter.
“Obviously we have weeks to sort out who’s starting and all that good stuff, but Joe’s going to walk in and take the first snaps at quarterback,” Taylor said Wednesday. “He’s prepared for that.”
The second-year coach said the baseline expectation for his new quarterback is to play well in Week 1 in the season opener against the Los Angeles Chargers. Burrow welcomed Taylor’s early hopes for him.
“It feels great to immediately have the trust of the coaching staff,” Burrow said. “I’ve come a long way in the last three to four years in that aspect. It feels great coming in and knowing that they have my back and that if I make a mistake in practice that I’m not going to get benched.”
To get ready for the task ahead, Burrow spent most of the offseason living with his parents and training in southeast Ohio. Burrow said he moved to the Cincinnati area a couple of weeks ago and got together with “a lot of different guys” when asked if he had been able to throw with any of his new teammates.
Burrow did confirm being able to throw to rookie wide receiver Tee Higgins, the Bengals’ second-round pick.
“I’m really excited about Tee,” Burrow said. “I was very impressed the couple of times I threw with him. I think he’s going to be a really, really great player for us.”
The 2020 draft class will be pivotal in helping the Bengals return to the postseason for the first time since 2015. In addition to the playoff drought, Cincinnati hasn’t won a playoff game since January 1991, which is long before Burrow and many of his teammates were born.
Ever since it became apparent last fall that the Bengals were going to have the No. 1 overall pick in April’s draft and a chance to draft one of the most transcendent college quarterbacks in recent years, Burrow has been pegged as the one to lift the despondent franchise.
On Friday, he downplayed the chatter surrounding the long-term expectations for his time in Cincinnati.
“I try not to pay attention to all that stuff,” Burrow said. “My job here is to be the best I can today and get better every single day. That’s all I’m focused on right now. I let everybody else do all that talking.”