Latest On Bengals, WR Ja’Marr Chase

The most recent update on the Ja’Marr Chase contract situation indicated he and the Bengals would wait for Justin Jefferson‘s extension to be signed before working out their own. With that important domino having now fallen, Chase’s status will again garner attention.

Jefferson met his target of topping all non-quarterbacks with respect to AAV on his Minnesota pact ($35MM). The extension also puts him in a tier of his on the topic of guaranteed money, with nearly $89MM locked in at signing and $110MM in total guarantees present. Especially considering the Bengals’ history as it pertains to long-term contracts, the structure of the Jefferson accord is significant.

Chase’s former LSU teammate secured guarantees (either in full or in part) for all but the last season of his monster pact. That represents a noteworthy long-term commitment on the part of the Vikings, one the Bengals have traditionally avoided with respect to guaranteeing multiple years of a deal. Quarterback Joe Burrow is of course an exception, and it will be interesting to see if Chase can join him on that front.

The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr. reports the guarantees present in the Jefferson accord (more so than its value) were “eye-opening” (subscription required). Chase – along with Cowboys standout CeeDee Lamb is eligible for a deal similar in AAV at a minimum, although Jefferson may serve as the receiver benchmark for quite some time. Increased talks between Lamb and Dallas are expected in the immediate future as he skips out on mandatory minicamp.

Chase (who was absent from the start of OTAs) could follow suit, but in any event Dehner adds the Bengals have the option to remain patient. Cincinnati made the obvious decision to pick up the 24-year-old’s fifth-year option this offseason, keeping him on the books through 2025. Receivers have generally not landed massive extensions until after their fourth year, but 2024 has offered exceptions in that respect.

Having amassed 3,717 yards and 29 touchdowns in 45 games, Chase certainly has a case to secure a deal rivaling that of Jefferson. As Dehner reports, however, there is an expectation that inking a deal this offseason would involve Chase’s camp ceding “more than a little” in contract talks. Waiting until another spike in the cap ceiling (coupled with another wave of receiver deals near the top of the market) could, coupled with another strong season, help Chase’s leverage.

Of course, Cincinnati must approach Chase negotiations with the status of fellow wideout Tee Higgins in mind. The latter is on track to play on the franchise tag in 2024 (although he has yet to sign the $21.82MM tender), and a commitment beyond the coming season would complicate a Chase pact. The status of both pass-catchers will remain worth watching closely.

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