Bengals’ willingness to “challenge” the looming contract negotiations

Ben BabyESPN staff writerJuly 24, 2023, 03:44 PM ET3 minutes to read

CINCINNATI — Bengals president Mike Brown knows contract negotiations are looming for some of the team’s top players in the coming years.

Quarterback Joe Burrow, wide receiver Ty Higgins and linebacker Logan Wilson are all up for contract extensions this year, while Pro Bowl wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase is eligible for a new deal next year.

At the team’s annual media lunch, Brown said retaining the team’s top players could be a challenge given salary cap restrictions.

“We’ve got some really good players that need to be fed,” Brown said. “That’s a challenge. It’s athletic. You get a bag of corn and you have 10 pigs. Well, you’re going to put that on them. The bag’s going to be empty. And some of them won’t get it.”

Burrow is entering his fourth year in the NFL and coming off his best season as a pro. In 2022, Burrow ranked 10th in total QBR and 3rd in completion percentage over expectations, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Throughout the offseason, both sides remained silent on the status of Burrow’s contract. The Browns and director of linebackers Duke Tobin did not release any details about the quarterback’s contract status.

“I committed myself not to talk about Joe’s contract,” Brown said Monday. “I do not think that this is useful for negotiations. The other side made the same commitment and did not violate it,” he added.

According to the team, Boro was present when the rookies had their first drills at their training camp on Sunday. The veterans are scheduled to come to camp on Tuesday, and the first exercises are scheduled to begin on Wednesday.

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Higgins accumulated 3,028 yards in his first three seasons and participated in volunteer workouts for the team despite not having a long-term extension. On Monday, Higgins signaled his readiness for camp, saying he was “ready to go back to work” in a post posted to Threads on Monday.

Tobin remained optimistic that the team would be able to retain Higgins and Chase as part of the team’s offensive core in the coming years.

“We’re not looking to replace them with other people,” Tobin said Monday. “We’d like to keep her. We’ll see if that’s possible. I can’t predict that, but we sure hope we can have long-term relationships with the guys.”

While Tobin did not provide any details about the contract negotiations with Burrow, the team’s longtime chief of staff said Burrow “understands the big picture and we understand the big picture.”

Cincinnati is trying to win its first Super Bowl in franchise history after coming close the past two seasons. In January 2022, the Bengals lost in Super Bowl LVI to the Los Angeles Rams, 23-20. One year later, Cincinnati fell by the same margin in the AFC Championship Game in a rematch against Kansas City.

Brown, who has been president of the franchise since the death of his father and team founder, Paul Brown, in 1991, said he wanted to be able to celebrate lifting the Lombardi Trophy in Cincinnati.

“Zach (Taylor) is an amazing coach,” Brown said. “We’ve got good players. Our quarterback is an exceptional player. We’ve got a shot and we’ll see where it goes this year, but it’ll be fun if we can put it together.”

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