Jaguars OLB Josh Allen's contract situation mirrors that of Brian Burns'

• The Panthers haven't handled negotitations with Brian Burns well. The same can be said about the Jaguars and Josh Allen.

Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Josh Allen (41) greets Carolina Panthers linebacker Brian Burns (0)
Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Josh Allen (41) greets Carolina Panthers linebacker Brian Burns (0) / Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Unio / USA

The Carolina Panthers are drawing a line on the sand when it comes to re-signing pass rusher Brian Burns, who's expected to become a free agent. The Panthers want to keep Burns but they're far apart in contract talks. The Jacksonville Jaguars are facing a similar situation with outside linebacker Josh Allen. Although general manager Trent Baalke has made it clear that Allen will be a Jaguar in 2024, negotiations aren't off to a great start and that could have a negative effect on the team.

Just recently, insider Josina Anderson of CBS Sports reported that Burns and the Panthers aren't close to striking a deal, noting that the two-time Pro Bowl edge rusher isn't getting a contract in his preferred range, below Nick Bosa's annual average of $34 million. Last year, Carolina was offered two first-round picks for Burns but they rejected the offer, assigning additional value to him.

Anderson goes on to say that Burns may not have the best reaction if he gets the franchise tag. Moreover, she says that other players will be paying close attention to how Carolina handles the situation.

"From my experience of watching hundreds of these situations unfold, direct communication is always necessary with players, especially the stars.

Potentially floating offers to the press to protect optics-- despite minimal contact with players-- should never be the focus with any player or any team, in my opinion--especially in situations where all options are knowingly on the table. "

Burns, a first-round pick in the 2019 draft, posted a career-high 12.5 sacks in 2022. He reportedly rejected a five-year deal that would pay him $27 million on average per year but he turned it down. He later confided that he was terrified to get hurt without having the security of a long-term deal. Without an extension in place, the former Florida State Seminole is expected to get tagged, mirroring Josh Allen's current contract situation.

Like Burns, Allen was a first-round pick in the 2019 draft. Although he registered 10.5 sacks and made the Pro Bowl as a rookie, he wasn't nearly as dominant the next three years, registering a combined 17.5 sacks. That said, a knee injury hindered him in 2020 and he had to go through the Urban Meyer debacle in 2021. Nevertheless, he wasn't as productive or consistent as the Jags would've wanted to, so he entered the 2023 season without a new deal.

Under pressure to deliver, Allen had a monster season, setting a new franchise record for sacks in a season with 17.5. He was routinely the Jaguars' best defender and proved he deserves a new deal. However, general manager Trent Baalke hadn't begun contract talks by late January, something Allen wasn't thrilled about.

The Jaguars shouldn't hesitate to reward Josh Allen and their best players

If the Jaguars and Allen don't reach a long-term deal the franchise tag becomes a realistic possibility. While the tag would give the team's brass more time to get an extension done, Allen would most likely prefer the security that comes with signing a multi-year contract.

An added benefit of giving Allen an extension is that the Jaguars could then tag wide receiver Calvin Ridley, who's also slated to hit the open market. But even if the Jaguars found a way to keep Ridley without having to use the tag, they shouldn't waste any more time rewarding Allen. He's already proven himself and besides possibly saving a bit of money, they don't gain much by tagging him. Conversely, they'll take a massive burden off their shoulders by signing him to a long-term deal.

Besides showing the rest of the team that they value their best players, they'll be able to focus on addressing other needs in the offseason. Similarly, the front office will be able to fully turn their attention to free agency, the NFL Scouting Combine, and the draft without having to worry about contract Allen.

The bottom line is that things could get ungly if the Jaguars don't prioritize giving Josh Allen an extension. The silver lining is that they'll put the issue to rest once they agree to a long-term deal. The sooner they do it, the better.

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