The Cincinnati Bengals are coming off two successful seasons where the team made two consecutive appearances in the 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 2020 first-round draft pick, recently had his fifth-year option picked up by the Bengals. But, the team is in the midst of negotiating long-term contract with the quarterback to keep him in Cincinnati for the foreseeable future.
Burrow’s contract is expected to reset the quarterback market and make him the highest-paid player in the history of the NFL.
However, Burrow recently admitted that he is considering his other teammates who will soon come up for their own extensions — namely Chase and Higgins.
“Whenever you have guys on the team that need to be paid, that’s always on your mind. You want that 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 last year of his rookie contract unless he and the Bengals can agree on a long-term contract extension.
Since Higgins was not selected in the first round, Cincinnati does not have the option of having him playing under the fifth-year option.
If Cincinnati is unable to 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 notion that the team would entertain any potential trade offers that involved Higgins.
“If they want a receiver, go find your own,” an emphatic Tobin said at the league’s scouting combine. “In my opinion, Tee Higgins is a good piece for the Cincinnati Bengals. The trade stuff is a little ridiculous right now.”
Tobin also acknowledged the importance of continuing to surround Burrow with talented players.
“I have been pretty vocal about what Joe means to us, and my job is to facilitate his success as best I can with putting pieces around him, and his contract will get done when it gets done,” Tobin said. “But it’s a good problem to have. He’s a vital part of what we’re doing.”
During his three years in the NFL, Higgins has racked up over 3,028 receiving yards in the regular season. He has become a reliable target for Burrow and hauled in two touchdowns in Super Bowl LVI.