The Cincinnati Bengals were one call away from their second trip to the Super Bowl in as many years.
Or, well, they were at least one call away from trying to punch their Super Bowl ticket in overtime rather than going home empty-handed in regulation.
Whatever the case, going to Arrowhead Stadium and giving Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs a run for their money in the AFC Championship Game is no easy task.
The Bengals have proven that they can compete at the highest level against anybody, as they were even 3-0 against the Chiefs prior to Sunday’s loss.
Nonetheless, all good things eventually come to an end.
That’s why NFL analyst Rich Eisen is worried about the Bengals’ offseason, as their financial flexibility could be a thing of the past:
“Joe Burrow is a generationally brilliant player,” Eisen said. “What this guy brings to the table is off the charts, and I don’t even know if Brady was this good at this age. (…) Now it’s on ownership; it’s on the front office. Because the window is — unfortunately — it appears that their window of doing it in Joe Burrow’s first contract is over.”
#RuleTheJungle were so close to a second consecutive Super Bowl appearance, but now eliminated, we wonder where do they and @JoeyB go from here heading into a crucial offseason:#NFL #NFLPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/FiE0SRnhbt
— Rich Eisen Show (@RichEisenShow) January 30, 2023
As Buffalo Bills GM Brandon Beane pointed out, plenty of the Bengals’ roster was constructed on the basis of Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase still being on their rookie deals, which won’t be the case sooner rather than later.
So, the front office will either have to dig deep into the market to find the pieces they need, or free agents might need to take a pay cut or restructure their deals to stay with Joe Burrow and the Bengals going forward.
Burrow has managed to do wonders in just two full seasons as a starter, leading them to the Super Bowl despite having one of the worst Offensive Lines in the game.
But the Bengals will need to pay and protect their franchise cornerstone, or this amazing run will be as short-lived as it was impressive.NEXT: The Bengals Have 7 Notable Free Agents This Offseason