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One of Bengals’ star wide receivers showed up for mandatory minicamp, but the other remains absent

The Cincinnati Bengals offense has, for the last few years, been built around star quarterback Joe Burrow throwing the ball to his two star wide receivers: Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. When the trio has all been healthy, the Bengals have been among the league’s elite units. During the three seasons they have played together, Chase has 268 receptions for 3,717 yards and 29 touchdowns, while Higgins has 190 catches for 2,776 yards and 18 scores. 

We don’t yet know for how much longer the three stars will be on the same team, though, because of their respective contract situations. Burrow has already been extended on a monster-sized contract, but Higgins was franchise-tagged earlier this offseason after failing to come to a long-term agreement with the team, and Chase is now eligible for an extension of his own. 

Given the difference in their two situations, it is perhaps not surprising that it was Chase who reported to the Bengals’ mandatory minicamp this week, while Higgins remained absent, via NFL Media. Because Higgins has not signed the franchise tag, he is not currently under contract, and therefore cannot be fined for missing minicamp. If Chase were to skip out, he would be subject to fines.

If he eventually signs the tag, Higgins will be paid approximately $21.8 million for the 2024 season. He has been seeking a long-term deal, but it has yet to come to fruition. Chase, meanwhile, is likely one of the next receivers in line for a huge pay day. Justin Jefferson’s $35 million per year extension will presumably set a baseline for those negotiations, though his number could go even higher depending on where extensions for CeeDee Lamb and Brandon Aiyuk come in. 

The Bengals lost slot receiver Tyler Boyd in free agency this offseason, and could be moving forward without Higgins after the 2024 season. They drafted Jermaine Burton out of Alabama in the third round of this year’s draft, and he figures to operate as the team’s No. 3 wideout and be in strong position to move up the depth chart if and when Higgins is playing elsewhere.

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Author: Jared Dubin
June 11, 2024 | 1:50 pm

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