Much has been made about how the Cincinnati Bengals will retain their young stars. With a blockbuster deal for Joe Burrow in the works, Tee Higgins eligible for a new contract, and Ja’Marr Chase eligible for a contract extension next offseason, there are many paths the team can take to secure all three for the future.
There have been debates about whether it is possible or, if it was, what kind of team Cincinnati would be able to field around them. That is a conversation for another day, as the most important move will be how Burrow’s contract is structured.
After Burrow, the thought is Higgins will become the top priority for the front office. Quarterback is the most important position in the NFL, but a true No. 1 wideout isn’t far down the list. Despite playing second fiddle to Chase, Higgins is a No. 1 receiver on most other NFL teams.
NFL salary cap expert Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus recently released his projected contract extension to keep Higgins in Cincinnati.
Spielberger projects Higgins will sign a four-year deal worth $97 million ($24.25 million per year), with $32.25 million of that guaranteed.
“What Cincinnati will do with Higgins and Joe Burrow is already one of the biggest storylines of the NFL offseason, so big in fact that we recorded an entire PFF NFL Podcast centered around the topic,” Spielberger said. “The situation is complicated for myriad reasons, namely that Higgins is not the best wide receiver on his own team, but also how to balance his production between Ja’Marr Chase’s presence and the benefit of playing with Joe Burrow.
Higgins may not be the top option in the Bengals receiver room, but he has been a key contributor to the success the Bengals have seen over the last two seasons and has proven able to step into the primary receiver role, as he did when Chase missed four games last season.
In those games, Higgins averaged 6.5 catches, 98.2 yards, and 0.5 touchdowns. That may not be the level we’re accustomed to seeing from Chase, but Higgins was able to produce and help the Bengals go undefeated in Chase’s absence.
In recent comments, Burrow said making sure the players around him can get paid has been a “focal point” of his negotiations. Higgins was on record as appreciative of his thought process.
Burrow, Chase, and Higgins all seem to be motivated to keep the group together, so hopefully, the front office can pull it off.