ORCHARD PARK (AP) — Josh Allen overcame questions about his accuracy and small-school pedigree to establish himself as the franchise quarterback the Buffalo Bills have been searching for since Hall of Famer Jim Kelly retired 25 years ago.
The Bills on Friday announced Allen agreed to a six-year contract extension that locks up the fourth-year starter through the 2028 season. The value of the contract has not been released, but it is expected to be the most lucrative signed by the team, and eclipsing the $100 million deal defensive end Mario Williams signed in March 2012.
The agreement with Allen comes a few days after general manager Brandon Beane said he wanted to get a deal done with the quarterback before the season or put talks off until next year so not to serve as a distraction.
The sides were in no rush. Allen was under contract through the 2022 season after the Bills in May picked up the player’s fifth-year option, worth nearly $23 million.
Allen is coming off a breakthrough season in which he set numerous franchise passing and scoring records in leading Buffalo to its first AFC East title since 1995 and deepest playoff run in 27 years. Buffalo’s season ended with a loss to Kansas City in the AFC championship game.
Allen opened training camp by saying he’s not concerned about contract talks.
“Whether it happens or it doesn’t happen, it’s not going to change my approach to be the best teammate, the best leader I can be for this team and this organization,” Allen said. “My focus is completely on the field.”
Kelly was fine with Allen breaking several of his single-season records, and could only imagine how many more might fall in the future.
“I’ll put it this way, if Josh Allen is with us for 10-plus years, he will be breaking his own records,” Kelly said last year. “I pull for him every time. … I’m like a little kid.”
Allen’s production last year continued a trend of him making significant jumps in progress since the Bills traded up five spots in the draft order to select the quarterback with the seventh pick in the 2018 draft. Allen was the third of five quarterbacks drafted in the first round in 2018, and was knocked for accuracy issues during his three seasons at Wyoming.
The questions followed Allen through his first two seasons in which he ranked 32nd among NFL starters by completing less than 59% of his passes. Allen’s completion percentage jumped to 69.2 last year to rank fourth-best among NFL starters.
Allen has matured from a raw, strong-armed quarterback who had technique issues, and someone who relied too much on scrambling out of the pocket. Though he still remains a threat to run, Allen has been groomed to be more patient in the pocket.
Allen has benefited from a Bills front office that has assembled an experience group of receivers, over the past three years. It began with Buffalo signing Cole Beasley and John Brown in free agency in 2019, and continued the following offseason when the Bills acquired Stefon Diggs in a trade with Minnesota .
Diggs established immediate chemistry with Allen last year in becoming Buffalo’s first player to lead the NFL in yards receiving and catches.
Allen has also enjoyed stability at the coaching level in having spent his tenure in Buffalo working exclusively under head coach Sean McDermott and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.
Daboll, this past week, praised Allen for his even-keel and competitive nature.
“Really, he’s the same guy he was when he walked in the door in terms of his mental approach,” Daboll said. “It’s well-documented, talk about Josh’s improvement. He’s a consistent guy for us. He’s the leader of our football team. He’s got his hands all over this offense. And his legs, too. Fortunate to have him.”