On Aug. 6, Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen signed a six-year contract extension worth $258 million to keep him in Orchard Park through the 2028 season. The contract will average $43 million per year, and Allen received $150 million in total guarantees and $100 million fully guaranteed upon signing, which is each the highest in NFL history.
It’s arguably one of the biggest franchise-altering contracts in NFL history, but Bills general manager Brandon Beane knew exactly what he was doing when he did it. Through his first three years in the NFL, Allen has done everything in his power to prove himself and elevate the Bills to a Super Bowl contender.
His improvements from his rookie season to his third year have been notable, and last year’s MVP-caliber season was a sign of that. His work ethic and desire to improve have been on full display since he joined the league, so despite signing one of the largest contracts in NFL history, don’t expect Allen’s work ethic to just disappear.
Actually, expect the Firebaugh, Calif. native to take it to another level.
“It’s surreal to be in this spot right now. I’m just thankful that we could get it done,” Allen said during a video conference after signing his contract. “Now we can focus on going out there and earning it and making sure that they understand that I know that they didn’t pay me for what I’ve done. They did this ’cause they expect me to continue what I’m doing and expect me to go win this team some championships.”
Outside of Allen saying it himself, there’s plenty of evidence to prove that the former Wyoming Cowboy will continue an upward trajectory throughout his NFL career. His improvement through the first three years of his career is a prime example.
Allen played in 12 games and started in 11 while throwing for 2,074 yards and 10 touchdowns as a rookie in 2018. He also utilized his legs a lot during that first season, rushing for 631 yards and eight touchdowns. But one of the biggest critiques Allen received as a first-year player was his accuracy.
As a 22-year-old fresh out of playing in the Mountain West, Allen completed just 52.8% of his passes and threw a career-high 12 interceptions. But Allen has improved consistently as he’s gained more experience, and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has put more on his plate.
From Year 1 to Year 2, Allen improved his completion percentage by six points and threw for over 1,000 more yards while doubling his passing touchdown numbers. Then, Allen took a big jump this past season.
Allen made considerable strides as the Bills went 13-3, captured their first AFC East Division title since 1995, and made a run to the AFC Championship for the first time since 1993. The 6’5”, 237-pound quarterback completed 69.2% of his passes, a 16.4 point jump from his rookie season, for 4,544 yards and 37 touchdowns.
It was the type of season that thrust him into the MVP conversation and allowed the Bills to skyrocket into the Super Bowl conversation. It also was one of the main reasons Allen secured his historic contract.
He’s already improved dramatically from his rookie season, but Allen’s continued improvement isn’t just up to him. Beane has taken it upon himself to put his franchise quarterback in the best position possible.
By signing offensive linemen Dion Dawkins, Daryl Williams, and Jon Feliciano in the past few seasons, Beane solidified the line of protection in front of Allen for the foreseeable future. By trading for Stefon Diggs before last season, Beane also gave Allen one of the best receivers in the league, and his numbers last season proved it as Diggs led the league receiving yards (1,535), targets (166), and receptions (127).
Giving Allen the weapons to get to where he is now has been a point of emphasis for Beane ever since they drafted him 7th overall in 2018.
“How do you help him succeed so that you can pay him and show everyone this is the guy?” Beane told The Athletic’s Matthew Fairburn. “That’s been everyone’s focus in this organization. We have to find this guy, and then we have to develop him. It’s all hands on deck.”
Now, the rest is up to Allen, and he’s in the perfect position to do so. The Bills offense has returned several of their players from a year ago and has added a few new weapons.
Cole Beasley is back after registering 967 receiving yards on 82 receptions, and the Bills also return Isaiah McKenzie, second-year receiver Gabriel Davis, and tight end Dawson Knox. Beane also brought in veteran wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to bolster the receiving corps as well.
The pieces are in place for Allen’s steady climb to stardom; the rest is up to him.