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Bengals EVP Katie Blackburn stresses patience with Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins deals

Joe Burrow's deal is done. Tee Higgins is franchise tagged for 2024. Ja'Marr Chase should be the next order of business, right?

Ideally, that's the Bengals' plan, but they have little reason to move swiftly. Chase is entering Year 4 of his rookie contract, and the Bengals can still exercise his fifth-year option this spring, securing his services in Cincinnati through 2025.

Plus, there are some other market forces the Bengals would prefer to watch play out from the sideline -- for now, at least. 

"We haven't started," Bengals EVP Katie Blackburn recently said of negotiations with Chase, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. "That's sort of the next thing is just to piece together some of those things to consider and give it some thought. And like I said, I can't say for sure where any of it will go. But we certainly are going to study up on it and see what we can figure out to try to get the best result we can for the club one way or another."

The best result for the club is, of course, retaining Chase at a number that doesn't completely break Cincinnati's bank or salary cap. The studying up portion of Blackburn's response, however, is an indirect nod toward another contract the football world is collectively awaiting: Justin Jefferson's impending deal with the Minnesota Vikings.

It's a storyline that has remained in the news cycle for weeks, if not months. Chase's former LSU teammate undoubtedly deserves to get paid, and it sounds as if the Vikings intend to do so soon -- ideally, before Jefferson's fifth-year option season commences in September.

Until then, though, the Bengals have little reason to do anything but stand pat, and let Jefferson's extension reset the market -- especially considering they'll have not just Chase, but also Higgins to attempt to extend within the next 11 months.

"We like these guys. We have to work within the salary cap," Blackburn said. "So we have to figure out what that will mean, and how it can all stay together. That's just what we have to work on and see where it takes us."

It's late March, so folks are itching for news. The Bengals have young talent their fans are desperately hoping won't leave town for greener pastures. But these deals are going to take time, so it's best to get comfortable waiting.

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