Joe Burrow won the Heisman Trophy and declared to go pro earlier this year. The Cincinnati Bengals locked up the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Sounds like a clear outcome: the Bengals will use their pick to draft Burrow. Unfortunately for the unfortunate franchise, the process has been anything but simple.
Even though Burrow is from Ohio, it seems like he’s doing just about everything he can to avoid saying he wants to play for the Bengals if they were to select him.
For Burrow, who isn’t even a pro yet, to claim he has leverage over an NFL team has to be one of the last things the Bengals want to hear out of him. I say “one of the last” because nothing Burrow has said so far about the Bengals has been something the Bengals would be particularly happy to hear.
Burrow lights up whenever someone asks him about the possibility of being the #1 overall pick. But that elation fades when someone specifically mentions the Bengals.
No one knows what Burrow’s plan is here. He could pull an Elway or Eli Manning by demanding a trade as soon as he’s drafted first by the Bengals. He could continue his disinterested comments about the franchise, causing the Bengals to feel so unsure about him, they decide to trade away the pick before the draft begins. Or in an ideal world for Cincinnati, the Bengals could draft Burrow and he could be willing to play for the franchise.
But what fun would that be if things just so happened to work out for Cincinnati? That’s not the Bengals franchise the sports world has come to know and love. As a fan of a long-time rival of the Bengals, half the fun in rooting against the Bengals is just how easy it has been to do so. We’ve seen them lose control of their players, lose a playoff game they easily should have won, sometimes those have happened all at once. Remember?
Yeah that was great.
I would hate to see Burrow in a Bengals uniform. I think the guy has real NFL potential. If the Steelers had to play against him twice a year, that could become a tough match up simply because of the potential of Burrow. Also, what if the Bengals ruin Burrow? There are teams who know how to deal with real talent and groom that talent, and there are teams who have no idea what to do with talent. Cincinnati has done nothing to prove they know how to coach with players with real potential. It would be a shame if Burrow went to the Bengals and the early years of his career were wasted in no man’s land.
So please, Cincinnati, for our sake and yours. Just make things easier for everyone. Either don’t draft Burrow or trade your pick. Because no one wants to see you bungle this one as you’ve done so many times in the past.
Jacob Recht is a producer for ESPN Pittsburgh and Steelers Nation Radio. You can follow him on Twitter @jakeyrecht
(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)