No quarterback in recent memory has turned his game around as swiftly as Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen.
The Pro Bowl signal-caller went from question marks about his future to star in the matter of one season. Allen's play in his first two seasons led some to wonder whether he was, in fact, the long-term face of the Bills franchise. His performance in Year 3 left no doubts.
Allen isn't just a rising star. He's the reason players like Matt Milano took less money to return to Buffalo rather than check out free agency. The QB is the reason veterans like Emmanuel Sanders chose to play in Buffalo over other suitors.
Now, the Bills need to lock down their QB for the long haul.
"It helps you for your planning the sooner you can get that contract done," Beane said. "Again, I hope that we can get him done, if not this year, next year. You don't want to get into the franchise (tag) and all that stuff. It's a tool that you use if you have to to keep a great player, but at the end of the day, we want Josh here for the long term. We want him to be happy, and obviously, we want it to be a deal where we can still put talented players around him because Josh is a competitor. He's not wired for us just to pay him, then not be able to put stuff around him. So we'll try and find that deal that works for him and works for us."
The 2018 No. 7 overall pick, Allen is entering the fourth year of his rookie contract, a period when many young signal-callers sign a massive contract extension. If a deal isn't done this offseason, the Bills would exercise the fifth-year option on Allen.
As Beane states, Buffalo would like to avoid the franchise-tag situation, which we saw play out with Dak Prescott in Dallas.
Since the Bills' season ended in the AFC Championship Game, we've only heard both sides say they desire to get a long-term contract done. Unless the situations with Jared Goff and Carson Wentz spooked the Bills brass -- and nothing they've said thus far suggests it has -- a deal could come together this offseason.
Beane seems to allude to Allen taking less than a top-of-the-market deal to ensure the Bills can afford to surround him with quality players. It remains to be seen how Allen's reps view that stance. We've seen longer deals like Patrick Mahomes' set up franchise flexibility and others like Prescott's that are shorter and give the vital player a max value. There is no one way to slice the apple.
In the end, Allen wants to stay in Buffalo, a city that has championed him, and the Bills want the strong-armed QB to be their face for the long term. At some point, a deal should get done that makes it a reality.