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FFL: Preseason | NFL: Week 1

Bengals owner leading Chase to re-sign WR

Mon Jul 22 4:29pm ET
Field Level Media

Signing wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase to a long-term contract was a top item on the offseason priority list for Bengals owner Mike Brown. On the eve of training camp, a deal for Chase is still marked urgent by the franchise's top decision-maker.

Chase, 24, caught 100 passes for 1,216 yards and seven touchdowns last season and enters his fourth season with 268 receptions and 29 touchdowns.

"He's a key player. Next to Joe (Burrow), he's our next one. He knows it, we know it," Brown said Monday. "This may take a while. We are gonna bend over backwards to get it done. I can't tell you when, though."

Keeping Chase could cost Cincinnati more than $30 million per season based on the most recent contracts with top-of-market wide receivers. His former LSU teammate Justin Jefferson reset the market with a four-year, $140 million contract ($35 million per season) that eclipsed the $32 million per year Eagles wideout A.J. Brown receives. Amon-Ra St. Brown signed a four-year deal worth $30.002 million per year with the Lions, which is $200,000 more than All-Pro Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill ($30 million AAV).

Brown said the timing for negotiations is not great, preferring to hold contract talks in the offseason.

"With the cap and how it works, it's a little different," Brown said. "Things can happen. Opportunities can arise unexpectedly, and you can put deals together. We aren't going to say 'Oh no, we aren't going to do that deal' if it is the right deal. It's not so likely that this is a good time to negotiate. The offseason is a better time. We try to keep focused on the football part. I am not going to rule anything out, but I will tell you that the dye has probably been cast."

Bengals No. 2 wide receiver Tee Higgins is playing on the one-year franchise tender after not signing a long-term extension in the offseason.

Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin made a clear delineation with where contracts stand, suggesting the blue-chip tag on Chase as a "rare" talent defines him more than the position of wide receiver.

"I don't view people as receivers. I view them as individuals, and I think there's a lot of pros to having a Ja'Marr Chase. I don't call him, ‘Receiver.' I call him, ‘Ja'Marr Chase.' And Ja'Marr Chase is a rare football player," Tobin said. "We'll see what we can get done. But I view them as individuals. And they all have individual traits and they've all had production levels that mirror or don't mirror some of the other contracts."

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