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Bills History: Quarterback Contract Extensions

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In his most recent pre-draft presser, GM Brandon Beane spoke on the topic of Josh Allen and Tremaine Edmunds’ contracts, including the idea of picking up two fifth-year options in the same season. That’s not a favorable place to be in, giving big money down to two of their centerpieces with no long-term guarantees. If you have to keep just one of them, it’s obviously the QB. Furthermore, it’s irrefutably better to make extending him a priority.

“Josh wants to be here. That gives me hope we’ll get something done at some point. I can’t guarantee you it will be this year. But the good thing is we do have time.”

– Brandon Beane, Pre-Draft Presser

At this point, it’s hard to dispute that Josh Allen is the best QB Buffalo has seen in 20+ years. There’s already a case for him being the best we’ve ever had (despite his limited sample size, of course). Both the team and Allen himself have made it clear they intend to do everything they can to keep him around for the long haul. But what would his new contract look like? We imagine it would be something like this, per Spotrac.

This may look like a lot of cash, and that’s because it is. The first post-rookie contract of a franchise QB has historically pulled in top-five all-time money. In a pass-first offense that leans on its QB’s big arm, Josh will use that cannon to take big checks to the bank. But why does this amount of money make so many fans balk? Simple. We haven’t been here in a very long time. The Bills haven’t extended a drafted QB since 1990 when they gave Jim Kelly a six-year, $18.5M deal.

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That year the Bills debuted their no-huddle offense. Having long-term security, Levy and Kelly grew into more of a partnership and less of a dictatorship. Jim Kelly left his rookie contract in the dirt and the Bills left the entire AFC in shambles, having built through the draft and used Kelly’s rookie contract period to acquire talent and build around their franchise players. Sound familiar?

The best methods are passed on by the survivors and teams have continued to learn from dominant eras of NFL history. The Bills simply had to look back at themselves in order to move forward. Those four consecutive Super Bowl appearances have never been matched by any franchise in any era, and seeing Buffalo repeat upon these tried and true methods for team growth and sustained success is immensely encouraging.

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With a great team built around an elite level QB, there’s one thing left to do: extend Josh Allen. JA17 may end up drawing more cash than projected coming off a record-breaking, MVP-caliber season, but breakout QBs have always commanded huge paydays. Paying the cost of a franchise QB is a privilege that Buffalo hasn’t had in nearly 30 years. Spending big on a single player isn’t a comfortable action, due to fear of injury/regression. However, it is a necessary one in order to foster long-term success. Regardless of how you feel about its value, this extension opens Buffalo’s Super Bowl window for the first time since 1999.

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