The Cincinnati Bengals are coming off two successful seasons in which the team made back-to-back appearances in AFC Championship Games.
The team’s young stars, quarterback Joe Burrow and wide receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, have been the key to turning around the franchise’s fortunes in recent years.
Burrow, a first-round pick in the 2020 draft, recently earned his fifth-year option from the Bengals. But the team is negotiating a long-term contract with the quarterback to keep him in Cincinnati for the foreseeable future.
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Burrow’s contract is expected to restart the quarterback market and make him the highest-paid player in NFL history.
However, Burrow recently admitted that he is considering his other teammates who will soon be appearing for their own extensions, namely Chase and Higgins.
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«Any time you have guys on the team that need to be paid, that’s always on your mind. You want him to be a focal point. So, we’re working to make that happen.» Burrow said earlier this week when he spoke about the ongoing contract negotiations.
Higgins, a 2020 second-round pick, is set to enter the final year of his rookie contract unless he and the Bengals can agree to a long-term contract extension.
Since Higgins was not selected in the first round, Cincinnati does not have the option of having him play under the fifth-year option.
If Cincinnati can’t sign Higgins, they could trade him instead of letting him enter the free agent market next offseason.
However, in March, Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin shut down any idea that the team would consider any possible trade offers involving Higgins.
«If you want a receiver, find your own,» Tobin said emphatically at the league’s scouting combine. «In my opinion, Tee Higgins is a good piece for the Cincinnati Bengals. The trade thing is a bit ridiculous right now.»
Tobin also recognized the importance of continuing to surround Burrow with talented players.
«I’ve talked a lot about what Joe means to us, and my job is to facilitate his success to the best of my ability by putting pieces around him, and his contract will be up when it’s up,» Tobin said. «But it’s a good problem to have. It’s a vital part of what we’re doing.»
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During his three years in the NFL, Higgins had more than 3,028 receiving yards in the regular season. He has become a reliable target for Burrow and scored two touchdowns in Super Bowl LVI.