Joe Burrow knows who stands in his way to becoming the No. 1 quarterback in the NFL.
As the Cincinnati Bengals started minicamp on Tuesday, the Pro Bowl quarterback was asked who he thinks is the best player in the world. He had a clear answer.
“I don’t think there is any argument right now. It’s Pat,” Burrow told reporters, referring to Kansas City Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes. “Until somebody has a better year than he’s had. He’s the one to knock off.”
Looking at the accolades, Burrow’s claim is tough to deny. Mahomes won his second Super Bowl and Super Bowl MVP in February. Three days prior to Kansas City’s Super Bowl LVII win over the Philadelphia Eagles, Mahomes was named the league’s MVP for the 2022 season, earning the honor for the second time in his five full seasons as a starter.
Statistically, there was no better quarterback than Mahomes in most of the major passing stats. He led the league in passing yards (5,250), passing touchdowns (41) and was second in passer rating (105.2), finishing just 0.3 points behind the league leader (Tua Tagovailoa). In addition to his top-tier passing season, Mahomes rushed for 358 yards and four touchdowns.
Still, Burrow’s proclamation might be surprising to some. The Bengals and Chiefs have had some tense matchups over the past two seasons, with many of Burrow’s teammates exclaiming that their quarterback owned the Chiefs at one point. Some even started calling Kansas City’s home field “Burrowhead Stadium.” They had reason to crow as Burrow won his first three head-to-matchups against Mahomes and the Chiefs, including an overtime win in the 2021 AFC Championship Game in Kansas City.
But Mahomes and the Chiefs got their revenge over Burrow and the Bengals this past January, beating Cincinnati 23-20 in the AFC title game.
Seeing Mahomes perform and win at the highest level twice, Burrow said he has “respect for those guys because you know the work that it takes to get to that point.” That’s why winning a Super Bowl is his top goal.
“The goals never really change for me,” Burrow said. “They never really have. The top of the mountain is always the goal personally and team-wise. So even coming into the league, that was my goal. I wouldn’t say that’s changed year to year.”
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Burrow has already proven himself to be one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks just three seasons into his career. In 2022, he tied for second in passing touchdowns (35), was second in completion percentage (68.3%), fifth in passing yards (4,475) and sixth in passer rating (100.8). He also rushed for 257 yards and five touchdowns, helping him earn the first Pro Bowl nod of his career.
Burrow’s accomplishments have led some analysts to rank him as the second-best quarterback in the league — and knocking on the doorstep of Mahomes’ top spot.
However, Burrow said he doesn’t care about those rankings and is secure in his ability to assess himself.
“I know where I can get better,” Burrow said. “I know where I can improve just like everybody does. That’s what I’m focused on throughout the offseason, throughout the year is incremental improvements to my game. You maintain discipline, you’ll get to where you want to.”
The other big storyline surrounding Burrow this offseason is his contract status. Entering Year 4, the 2020 No. 1 overall pick became an eligible extension in March. While he and the Bengals have had contract talks, no deal has been reached.
As the Bengals are about to begin their six-week break before the start of training camp, the quarterback declines to comment on a question asking if he’d feel comfortable playing at the start of the upcoming season with no deal done.
“I think I’ve given you guys all of the information that I’m comfortable with sharing about that process,” Burrow said. “As far as questions go about that, I’ll probably save that for another time.”
Burrow is under contract through the 2024 season after the Bengals picked up his fifth-year option in April.
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