Barnwell: There's more risk to Josh Allen's new deal than most NFL contracts

ESPN NFL writer Bill Barnwell concedes Allen's 2020 season and high ceiling makes him worth the risk

The Buffalo Bills just made an incredible commitment to Josh Allen on Friday with the signing of his six-year contract extention worth $258 million. He’s going to receive the most guaranteed money in NFL history, and only one player, Patrick Mahomes, is slated to earn more on an annual average basis.

With that in mind, ESPN NFL writer Bill Barnwell says there’s more risk attached to Allen’s deal than most NFL contracts. The Bills are counting on Allen to repeat, or even build upon his 2020 campaign for the next half-decade.

If he doesn’t, the contract could become an albatross.

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Barnwell laid out his thoughts in a Twitter thread posted Sunday. His analysis is predicated on his calculation that the Bills will pay Allen $164.5 million over the first five years of the deal, which is even more than Mahomes. The Chiefs’ star quarterback got roughly $140.8 million over the first five years of his new contract.

Barnwell called that a “bit of a surprise,” given that Mahomes won a Super Bowl and MVP during his first three years as a starter. While Allen’s 2020 was incredible, it was the first time he was even selected to the Pro Bowl.

“There's more risk in this deal than the vast majority of contracts,” Barnwell writes. “Allen was great in 2020, but that was also his first above-average season as a passer. If he's the guy from 2020 moving forward (and he should be), this is a great deal for the Bills. If he's not…”

Though Barnwell’s concerns are justified, Buffalo had to reward the face of its franchise. It’s also not like Allen’s spectacular season was a complete surprise. He improved dramatically from 2018 to 2019, completing a higher percentage of his passes and doubling his touchdowns. The Bills qualified for the playoffs, where they narrowly lost to the Houston Texans in the AFC Wild Card Round.

Allen was also the No. 7 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Clearly, general manager Brandon Beane thought he could emerge as the Bills’ franchise quarterback. And that’s exactly what’s happened.

Barnwell concedes that point at the end of his thread.

“I would be terrified to give this deal to a guy who didn't have Allen's ceiling or a season like his 2020 on their resume already,” he writes.

Allen was already going to be one of the most heavily scrutinized players in football this year. His new contract only raises the stakes.

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