Joe Burrow signed his contract Friday while wearing a mask, but it is the Bengals that think they got the steal of the draft when the overall No. 1 draft pick signed in between a quarterbacks meeting and his first walk-through during a hectic morning at Paul Brown Stadium.
"I was thinking that. That it was finally about time," said Burrow of the end of the three-month wait for his first PBS visit. "I've been sitting at home for months, so it's nice to be able to get back to work."
Bengals head coach Zac Taylor pulled him out of the meeting and steered him to a small V.I.P room tucked a screen pass away from the field, where executive vice president Katie Blackburn waited with the four-year deal she negotiated with Burrow agent Brian Ayrault.
The transition from the Green-Dalton Era to the Age of Joe & A.J. went briefly and quietly, but even in the short interlude Burrow showed some of the elements that make the Bengals believe he's got the easy, confident Paul Brown-act-like-you've-been-there-before makeup to take over a franchise.
"You can only watch so many episodes of Law and Order before it gets old," said Burrow of getting out of his parents' basement in Athens, Ohio. After leafing through the contract and handing it over to Blackburn he didn't hesitate when asked which signing was harder. The contract or new house?
"The house," said Burrow, leaving no question.
That may be a tougher transition than this one. "It kind of feels weird to own a house. That's all I can really say about it."
Burrow has put down stakes on the eastern edge of Cincinnati and his old buddy from Ohio State, Bengals right end Sam Hubbard, is a neighbor. He's been here for about two weeks, enough to time to get in some throwing sessions with receivers like Tee Higgins and Auden Tate and tight end Drew Sample.
He doesn't think it will take long to get synced up with everybody else.
"I'd say probably minimum six to seven throwing sessions," Burrow said. "Everyone has their own mannerisms, the way they run routes. Their own body language. It just takes a while to get used to it."
Burrow has yet to throw to his pair of 1,000-yard receivers, A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd. But he's seen plenty of tape of them at work.
"We have a lot of big, strong physical guys that are going to make plays for me as long as I put the ball where it needs to be," Burrow said. "I think we're going to have one of the best receiving corps in the league."
And with that, Taylor got ready to haul him out to the rookies' first 11-on-11 walk-through of camp.
Three months late, but right on time.
"Thank you, Katie," said Burrow as the contract headed to a filing cabinet.
The Bengals were saying the same thing.