In each of Joe Burrow's first four seasons in the NFL, the Cincinnati Bengals' franchise quarterback, selected 1st overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, hasn't had the luxury of a complete offseason/preseason regimen to prepare for the season ahead.

In 2020, right in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic, teams didn't have a full, formal training camp. In 2021, Burrow was rehabbing from a torn ACL he suffered early in his rookie season. In 2022, a ruptured appendix forced an emergency appendectomy that kept Burrow out of most of Bengals training camp and the preseason. And last year, Burrow suffered a calf injury early on in camp that cast doubt on his availability for the start of the regular season.

The 2024 offseason once again begins with Joe Burrow's health in question. A torn ligament in Burrow's right wrist, suffered during a November game against the Baltimore Ravens, caused Burrow to miss the final seven games of the Bengals season. As a result, Cincinnati missed out on the postseason after making runs to the Super Bowl and AFC Championship Game the two seasons prior. But all signs out of Cincinnati point to Burrow being on track to complete the first normal training camp of his young career.

“We designed the whole thing to stay within the constraints of where the medical people think he should be and where he wants to be right now,” Bengals new offensive coordinator Dan Pitcher told Geoff Hobson of “Nobody is sitting there with a special pitch counter. But we've been smart how we put it together. He's got all his range and power.”

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow after injuring his wrist

Bengals' Super Bowl hopes hinge on Joe Burrow's health 

This is the best news that folks in Cincinnati could've hoped for, because through four seasons, there's a very simple trend that is unfolding before our eyes: when Joe Burrow finishes the season healthy, the Bengals make a deep postseason run. When he doesn't, the Bengals don't make the NFL Playoffs at all.

2020: 10 starts, 2-7-1 record, torn ACL, missed playoffs

2021: 16 starts, 10-6 record, lost in Super Bowl 56

2022: 16 starts, 12-4 record, lost in AFC Championship Game

2023: 10 starts, 5-5 record, torn Scapholunate ligament, missed playoffs

Now admittedly, this isn't quite an exact science. It's more so an assessment of Burrow and the Bengals' ceiling when he's healthy. When healthy, it's nearly impossible to dispute that he's not one of the top five quarterbacks in the league, someone who has a tangible knack for making big plays in the biggest moments of the game.

Sure, a 2-7-1 record as a starter during his rookie season indicates that even if Burrow didn't miss the final stretch of the season with a torn ACL, the Bengals likely weren't sniffing the playoffs anyway. Last year, things certainly could've gone differently had Burrow remained healthy for the remainder of the season. Even without Burrow under center for the final seven games of the year, the Bengals finished 9-8, just a game out of the Playoff picture.

But this year, it does feel like Cincinnati's postseason hopes may rest solely on the shoulders, or perhaps more appropriately, the right wrist of Joe Burrow.