Joe Burrow’s extension is finally done, but that doesn’t mean the Cincinnati Bengals are out of the woods as far as contracts are concerned.
With, the Bengals’ focus will now be directed at receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. Chase still has two years left on his rookie deal, while Higgins had hoped to receive an extension he deemed acceptable this summer as he is entering into the final year of his rookie contract.
Higgins and the Bengals have never got close to a contract extension and the wideout is not expected to be in the team’s long-term plans, according to the Enquirer. He received an offer in the offseason, but it reportedly fell short of what he expected to get on the open market so negotiations carried on. He will be eligible for a franchise tag next year, if the Bengals so choose. Now, Higgins is expected to play out this season without the deal he was looking to land.
On Friday, Higgins was asked by the media if he expects the negotiations to intensify in the coming days, to which he said, laughing, “I hope,” later adding that he has “no clue.”
The 24-year-old said his focus right now is on the team and the upcoming season.
“My job is just to come in every day and do what I do best, just work, and catch the ball from No. 9,” Higgins said.
Higgins’ current situation does not sit well with Tyler Boyd, the Bengals’ veteran wideout and Higgins’ teammate since 2020.
“He got the short end of the stick,” Boyd said of Higgins, via Cincinnati.com. “He’s worth a lot. They have to come up with some type of agreement. I hope they get something done over the next couple weeks.”
While Chase is the Bengals’ top wideout, Higgins has become arguably the best No. 2 receiver in the NFL. He’s had over 1,000 yards in each of the past two seasons and has been one of the main reasons for the Bengals’ immense success over that span.
Given the Bengals’ other contractural priorities, rumblings surfaced this offseason about Higgins possibly being on the trading block. Those rumorsduring the NFL Combine.
For his part, Higgins has said thatfor the rest of his career. That won’t be easy, however, as his current projected market value is a four-year deal that would pay him $22.6 million annually, according to Spotrac. Chase’s projected market value calls for him to make just under $25 million annually. Keeping both players at that price will be challenging to say the least.
Given his market value, Higgins is slated to play the 2023 season on a dramatically reduced rate. He has a base salary of just under $3 million and has a cap hit of $3.96 million.
Boyd is certainly hoping the Bengals continue contract talks throughout the season, as the team continues to work through the obstacles that come with keeping a title-contending team together.
“It relieves stress,” Boyd said of having a new contract, “and has you more comfortable out there.”