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Bengals Star WRs Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins Skip First Day of OTAs



Pittsburgh Steelers Cincinnati Bengals WR Tee Higgins

Cincinnati Bengals star wide receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins were both absent on the first day of voluntary OTAs, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. Both players are seeking long-term deals.

Higgins is playing on the franchise tag, which is worth $21.816 million and fully guaranteed. While Chase is looking for a deal that will make him the highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL. The Bengals placed the fifth-year option on Chase in April.

Chase will make $21.86 million in 2025 if he plays under the fifth-year option. Chase’s former LSU teammate Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings is reportedly set to exceed $30 million annually on his next contract, which would make him the highest-paid wideout in NFL history. Chase and his agent surely will be keeping a close eye on Jefferson’s upcoming contract as leverage prior to the 2025 season.

In 45 regular-season games, Chase has caught 268 passes for 3,717 yards (13.9 average) and 29 touchdowns. He was named the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year following the 2021 season, and has been selected to the Pro Bowl three times. He was named second-team All-Pro in 2022.

In 2023, Chase recorded a career-high 100 receptions, tying for the second most in a season in team history, for 1,216 yards and seven toucdowns. Chase broke out in his rookie season with 13 touchdowns and averaged 18.0 yards per reception. He is one of eight players in NFL history to reach the 1,000-yard receiving mark in each of his first three career seasons.

Bengals WR Chase Rookie Steelers

CINCINNATI, OH – SEPTEMBER 12: Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase (1) carries the ball during the game against the Minnesota Vikings and the Cincinnati Bengals on September 12, 2021, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, OH. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire)

Higgins has averaged 14.3 yards per reception in his NFL career and has caught at least five touchdowns in each of his four seasons, showcasing his big-play ability. He posted consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in 2021 and 2022 before an injury limited him to 11 games in 2023, and the injury to quarterback Joe Burrow hindered the Cincinnati passing attack.

Tee Higgins requested a trade out of Cincinnati after being franchise-tagged, but that request wasn’t granted, at leas yet. The Bengals seem hell-bent on keeping the highly talented receiver out of Clemson with the team.

“I want Tee Higgins back,” general manager Duke Tobin said to reporters at the Senior Bowl. “Everyone on our team would like to have Tee Higgins back. Again, there’s one pie and how big of a slice that takes and what else we can’t do because of it, we’ll have to determine and we’ll see.”

Higgins can attempt to force a trade, or he can pull a Le’Veon Bell and sit out the season by refusing to sign his franchise tender.