2020 NFL Draft: Joe Burrow cannot fix Bengals, needs to use his leverage

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – DECEMBER 07: Joe Burrow #9 of the LSU Tigers reacts after defeating the Georgia Bulldogs 37-10 to win the SEC Championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 07, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. Should he stiff the Bengals in the 2020 NFL Draft? (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Joe Burrow said he has leverage in the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft and should use it since his confidence and skillset can’t fix the Cincinnati Bengals organization

Heading into the 2020 NFL Draft, the consensus No. 1 pick is LSU quarterback Joe Burrow. There’s really no debate there as Burrow showed everything he needed to during his time with the Tigers and had one of the best historical seasons ever for a quarterback in 2019. All of that makes him the easy choice for the Cincinnati Bengals who need a new face of the franchise as they look to rebuild their roster.

However, it may not be as simple as it seems. Burrow is no fool and he knows that even though the draft is set up for the teams to have all the control, he’s no ordinary player. Burrow is a game-changer who can make a team relevant for the next 15-years and that gives him an awful lot of power.

Burrow even said as much recently when he claimed that while the Bengals have their process, he has leverage in the whole situation. And according to a former No. 1 overall pick, Steve Bartkowski, Burrow should exercise that leverage.

Bartkowski, who was taken first overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 1975 said that the franchise he joined was a disaster, and he puts the Bengals in this same category under their current ownership — which is why he thinks the LSU product should make like Eli Manning in 2005 and declare he won’t play for just any team.

“[Cincinnati] is not the best organization,” Bartkowski said via Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “You know, times change; things change. Atlanta wasn’t a good organization until Arthur Blank bought the team [in 2002]. It was a terrible organization. They didn’t know the right hand from the left to be honest.”

“I know what it’s like to go to a bottom-feeder team. I’d hate to see that happen to him to be honest. They beat me up. I spent more time at the hospital recuperating from injuries my first three years than I did throwing touchdowns. It was tough.”

Cincinnati is known as a rather cheap franchise. This was detailed when Johnathan Joseph left for the Houston Texans and was shocked at how much better the players were treated. He even went on a rant saying how cheap Mike Brown and the Cincinnati front office was.

Joseph isn’t the only player to grow tired of how Brown runs things as Carson Palmer even decided he would rather retire from pro football than to ever play for them again. He finally found himself traded but Palmer was true to his word and stayed away until he was dealt elsewhere.

Of course, there’s the growing sentiment that Burrow is the kind of player that can fix this franchise. Unfortunately, we already have seen that one quarterback — regardless of how much star power he has — cannot save a team all on his own.

Back in 2018, Baker Mayfield famously said he was the one who could turn the Cleveland Browns franchise around. And it was easy to believe him. Mayfield had all the swagger in the world and was someone the fan base gravitated toward.

So far, Cleveland has remained the same team they were before drafting Mayfield. Owner Jimmy Haslam is the least patient man in pro sports and has continued to turn over his staff at an alarming rate. This season, for example, Mayfield will be on his fourth head coach and fourth offensive coordinator in just his third NFL season.

While Cincinnati doesn’t have the same issues with turning over their staff, they have been guilty of holding on too long. They kept Marvin Lewis well past his expiration date simply because Brown doesn’t like to pay too much — and surely wasn’t going to fire a coach and pay them for not being there.

On top of that, they have a hard time keeping their good players as they won’t compete in free agency. This means Joe Burrow could go through the wringer much as Bartkowski did with the Falcons — which would keep him from ever reaching his true potential.

Burrow understands this as does his representation. Surely they are going over all of this and will have to get some assurances from the Bengals that they will change their ways.

Next: 3-Round mock features shake-up at the top

However, looking at their history, there’s no way anyone can believe them. Joe Burrow is as good of a pick as there has been in years but he can’t save this franchise on his own, which means he’s better off leveraging his way to a better situation.

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