After boasting a wide receiver room with Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd for the last three seasons and giving defensive coordinators fits, they could soon be left with just Chase.
Higgins and Boyd both have contracts that expire after this season, and Chase is eligible for an extension. The future of the weapons we and Joe Burrow have come to love will likely be decided when the new league year opens in March.
The whole receiver room has been tight-lipped about the situation to date, focusing on the 2023 season and not beyond that.
That is, until Thursday when Chase was asked about not only his future but the futures of Higgins and Boyd.
Chase looked fondly upon the time he’s spent with his two running mates but expressed hope that this doesn’t have to be the end.
Ja'Marr Chase said "it hit me this week" this could be his last game with Tee Higgins and/or Tyler Boyd.— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) January 4, 2024
Took a second to reflect:
"Lot of memories. Lot of laughs. Just a lot of bonding going on with those guys. Something I can’t explain, that’s how much fun we always have."
Ja'Marr Chase offered this on if he'd talk to those two about free agency:— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) January 4, 2024
"They know I want them. They know what I want. End of the day, it’s what they want. I won’t hold nobody back from what they want. Let them be the greatest they can be. I support everything they do."
When it comes to his own future, Chase made it clear that he wants to remain a Bengal but did reveal a bit about what will matter to him the most in negotiations.
Chase is also extension-eligible this offseason. Does he want to get a deal done: "Lord knows I want to do that."— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) January 4, 2024
Said most important thing for him will be "up front" guarantees.
Does Justin Jefferson need to get his deal done first? "Hell yeah." (followed by a laugh)
Chase speaking about “up front” guarantees may make Bengal fans a bit nervous, as the franchise hasn’t historically given out guarantees beyond the first year of the contract. Even with the splash signing of Orlando Brown Jr., they front-loaded his $31 million signing bonus.
Could the same be done with Chase? They have broken the mold of some of their historical contract structures for cornerstone players. Burrow’s recent extension is proof of that.
While the Bengals season may end Sunday, soak in as much as you can when watching the players you’ve grown to love. After all, there’s no guarantee they come back next season.
If that comes to pass, let’s hope we get one last chance to see all three in action Sunday vs. the Cleveland Browns.