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Does Joe Burrow hope the Bengals don’t draft him?

Mike Florio and Big Cat speculate if presumptive No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow could -- or should -- refuse to play for the Cincinnati Bengals and try to force a move elsewhere.

The puzzle pieces are piling up. And it’s not all that hard to see what Joe Burrow may be trying to assemble.

Burrow may be thinking about trying to get the Bengals to not draft him -- or to get someone else to trade up and get him. And the evidence is becoming more and more clear.

In the aftermath of winning the national championship, Burrow said that he’s happy to play for any team that will pay him to play football. Which presumably includes the Bengals (although owner Mike Brown would surely love to get Burrow to keep playing for free.)

Then came the Super Bowl week shot across the bow from former Bengals No. 1 overall pick Carson Palmer, who went on the record to say the Bengals aren’t trying to win a Super Bowl. (Based on Palmer’s time with the Bengals and with other teams, it’s safe to say he knows.) Palmer’s assessment became more ominous when it quickly came out that Palmer’s brother, Jordan, will be helping get Burrow ready for the draft.

Next, Joe Burrow appeared on The Dan Patrick Show. And Burrow didn’t reiterate his “whoever wants to pay me money to play the game of football, I’ll play for ’em, it doesn’t matter to me” line. Instead, Burrow said this: “You want to go No. 1. But you also want to go to a great organization that is committed to winning. Committed to winning Super Bowls.”

So the brother of Burrow’s private coach, who was a first overall pick of the Bengals, says the Bengals aren’t committed to winning Super Bowls. And then Burrow says that he wants to play for a team that is committed to winning Super Bowls. Sure, there’s nothing to see here.

Earlier this week, former Bengals receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who is also part of Team Burrow, seemed to encourage the Bengals to take what they can get from the Dolphins, who hold pick No. 5 -- and whose owner wants Burrow.

Most recently, Joe Burrow’s dad had a chance to remove all doubt regarding whether Burrow wants the Bengals if the Bengals want Burrow. Instead, Jimmy Burrow simply said, “Not sure where that information is coming from. We are all excited that Joe has put himself in a position to be considered as a possible high draft choice.”

The information is coming from Carson Palmer saying the Bengals aren’t committed to winning a Super Bowl and the hiring of Jordan Palmer and Joe Burrow’s sudden pivot from not being picky to wanting a team that is committed to winning a Super Bowl. And the information will continue to have credibility until Joe Burrow comes out and says, “I want to play for the Bengals, if the Bengals draft me.”

Until then, it’s fair to wonder whether Burrow is hoping that the Bengals don’t trade him, or that the Bengals trade the pick. It’s too early, however, to think that Burrow would stiff arm the Bengals. As Peter King (who covered the Bengals in the 1980s) said earlier this week on PFT Live, Mike Brown would be inclined to dig in and force Burrow to sit out the full year and re-enter the draft in 2021.

Even if Burrow would perhaps like to play for someone other than the Bengals, it could be a stretch to say he’d turn down a fully-guaranteed four-year contract worth more than $36 million, wait a year, and re-enter the process with no guarantee that he’d be the top pick.

So the Bengals have the power here. And if they take Burrow with the intent of keeping, Burrow’s choices are getting paid a lot of money to play football or getting paid nothing to wait a year and hope that things work out differently, with no guarantee that they will.