ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – It was always a matter of when not if the Bills would sign quarterback Josh Allen to a long-term deal and both sides accomplished that on Friday, getting an extension done before the 2021 season started.
“He’s been everything we thought and then some so it’s an exciting moment for him and our franchise,” Bills general manager Brandon Beane said on Friday.
The Bills locked up their franchise quarterback to a six-year contract that runs through the 2028 season, a deal reportedly worth $258 million with $150 million guaranteed. With an average salary of $43 million per year, that now makes Allen the second-highest paid player in NFL history behind Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
“It’s obviously a leap of faith on our part and Josh’s part as well but the trust that’s been built between the parties and then also just the belief that he’s only going to continue to improve, the way he’s wired, the family he comes from, the support he has, the way his teammates view him, that was all big in terms of doing it now and feeling good about it for the future,” Bills head coach Sean McDermott said on Friday.
“I know they didn’t pay me for what I’ve done. They did this because they expect me to continue what I’m doing and expect me to go win this team some championships. We’ve got a lot of work to do, I know that and I’m excited to just put this behind me and start focusing on football now,” Allen said.
Last week on the first day of training camp, Beane said there was no momentum towards getting a deal done with Allen and if they could get it done before the season started, that would be great but if not they’ll work hard to get it done next year. Those talks ramped up late Thursday night and went into Friday morning.
“Last night around ten o’clock, you never know when it’s gonna happen, got the phone call and we worked on it through the night and we got it done,” Beane said.
Around 3:45 Friday morning, they had “98%” of the deal done and that’s when Allen got the call things were close. The hope was to get the deal done before practice on Friday and that’s why McDermott, who rarely brings his phone out to practice, was checking for updates.
Getting this deal done now was important not just to put it behind them but also Allen’s value could have gone up had he performed similar if not better in 2021. Or what if he took a step back in his development and regressed, that would have made things more difficult for Allen’s side of things in negotiations.
“You’re excited, you’re excited for the organization, excited for Josh, a relief you know,” Beane said.
A relief not only to get the contract signed but also a relief in knowing they’ve found their franchise quarterback.
“You can’t win if you don’t have one at this level to sustain success that we’ve mentioned here and we fought so hard to get those draft picks, that collateral to go secure Josh. It’s a relief, the length of the deal to know this organization has what we believe is the right guy in place for the next eight years,” Beane explained.
Allen is coming off his best season leading the Bills to a 13-3 regular season record, winning the AFC East and two playoff games along the way to an AFC title game appearance. He also broke multiple franchise records during a season where he threw for 4,544 yards, 37 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He ended second in league MVP voting, was named to his first Pro Bowl and Second-Team All-Pro.
And even though back in 2018 when the Bills moved up five spots to draft Allen seventh overall, Beane and McDermott knew this was their guy, not everyone shared the same confidence. There were many doubters surrounding Allen coming out of Wyoming, the biggest knock was his completion percentage that had people wondering if he could improve his accuracy at the NFL level.
“People doubt, people don’t, they don’t know right? And so that’s a lot to me true about our city here and people say things about Buffalo but they really don’t know and they don’t take the time to come find out so I think Josh is changing that and I think we’re changing that,” McDermott said.
“I personally think it was just a match that was made to work, you know me being in this great city here in Buffalo and trying to embody what the city is. It’s blue collar, hard working, don’t complain like figure it out mentality and I’m very internally driven and I’ve had this goal of mine to play this game for as long as I can,” Allen said.
“There’s multiple ways to get to a destination and sometimes they take a little longer, sometimes they’re a little harder but I wouldn’t go back and change anything about my past and where I went to junior college, where I went to college.”
Since Beane and McDermott took over in 2017, the goal is always “draft, develop and sign” their own and so far we’ve seen them do that with several players. Before the 2020 season, Beane signed left tackle Dion Dawkins and cornerback Tre’Davious White to long-term deals but he knows that’s not always realistic.
“We would love every player we bring in here whether it’s the draft or we found him in free agency, we’d love to develop him more and extend them. We know it doesn’t work that way but every time we can do that we feel great, like a proud parent that this guy has done everything and it’s important,” Beane said.
“It sends the message to the locker room, these guys that are getting extended, they are doing everything we’re asking and Josh is another perfect example.”
The last time the Bills signed a drafted quarterback to a contract extension was Jim Kelly back in 1990 when they signed him to a six-year deal. Kelly’s name gets mentioned a lot when talking about Allen because that was the last time this organization had a franchise quarterback. Now, it’s up to Allen to live up to those expectations after signing this deal and not only perform the way he did in 2020 but better.
“That sort of pressure doesn’t bother me. I want to continue to prove why the Bills drafted me and decided to extend me,” Allen said.
Last year, the Bills season ended with confetti falling, just not for them as they watched the Kansas City Chiefs celebrate making a second straight Super Bowl.
Now the expectation is the same, end the year showered in confetti but this time with Allen holding the Lombardi Trophy.
“For me it’s not enough just to get to this point. I’ve gotta continue to go out there and prove it every day of why we made the decision to do what we did today and try to help this team win a bunch of games here,” Allen said.