National Football League
Ja’Marr Chase contract projection: What could Bengals extension look like?
National Football League

Ja’Marr Chase contract projection: What could Bengals extension look like?

Published Feb. 15, 2024 8:00 a.m. ET

The competitive relationship between the Bengals' Ja'Marr Chase and Vikings' Justin Jefferson is well-documented.

During their time in the NFL, the former LSU teammates have been known to engage in friendly banter, each claiming that they're the league's best wide receiver. So it should come as no surprise that Chase wouldn't mind getting his second contract after Jefferson. 

That would mean, of course, that Chase would likely reset the wide receiver market. Entering his fifth-year option in 2024, Jefferson is also eligible for a new deal. 

"Hell yeah," Chase laughed, when asked if Jefferson needed to ink his second deal before him. "I'm just enjoying what's in front of me right now." 


Chase, the fifth overall pick in the 2021 draft, is extension-eligible this offseason after completing three NFL campaigns. The three-time Pro Bowler has surpassed 1,000 yards receiving yards each year, including 1,455 in his first season en route to AP Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, which set a then-NFL rookie record in the Super Bowl era (broken this year by the Rams' Puka Nacua, who had 1,486 yards). Chase had 100 catches for 1,216 yards and seven touchdowns this past season with backup quarterback Jake Browning playing nearly half the season. 

With the Dolphins' Tyreek Hill ($30 million per year) and Raiders' Davante Adams ($28 million) currently atop the wide receiver market in terms of average annual value, Chase could push for $35 million annually, considering his youth and the ballooning wide receiver market. Adams and Hill were 29 and 28 years old, respectively, when they received their record-setting deals. Chase is just 23. 

Hill leads the league in guaranteed money at signing ($52.53 million), and the Rams' Cooper Kupp has the highest total guarantees ($75 million), according to Spotrac. Chase figures to beat those benchmarks, too. 

Justin Jefferson, Tyreek Hill, Ja'Marr Chase: Are we in ‘golden era’ of WR play?

Last month, Chase admitted to Cincinnati media that upfront money will be important to him in his second contract. 

"I don't know. You're going a little bit too far now, buddy," Chase joked when asked specifically if he wants guaranteed money in Year 2. "I gave you a little spice. Don't take all of it." 

What adds a wrinkle to Chase's extension talks is the looming free agency for fellow Bengals star wide receiver Tee Higgins, whose rookie contract expires this offseason. Keeping two highly paid receivers can make it difficult to construct a playoff-caliber roster. Just one NFL team last season was paying two wide receivers at least $18 million per year: the Chargers (Mike Williams, Keenan Allen). 

The 25-year-old Higgins would command No. 1 wide receiver money on the open market, but it would make the most sense for Cincinnati to slap the non-exclusive franchise tag on him, where it could receive two first-round picks as compensation for not matching an offer he receives.

Even without trading a franchise-tagged Higgins, or reaching an agreement on a multi-year deal, his projected $21.6 million tender could be palpable for the Bengals' books. Chase will be on the final year of his rookie contract in 2024, and quarterback Joe Burrow's cap number doesn't balloon until 2025, when it jumps to $46.25 million (it's $29.7 million next season). That's why Cincinnati could be all-in on next season. The team is currently scheduled to have more than $59.4 million in 2024 salary cap space, fourth most in the league, according to

But would Chase take less than his worth if it means the Bengals could keep Higgins? 

"That's a good question. Who knows?" Chase said last month. "It depends how much (of a pay cut) I'm taking. It depends at the end of the day. Then I might not really be taking a cut. They might cut someone else, no what I'm saying? It might come from somewhere else (on the roster)."

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Either way, Chase should be getting top dollar sooner rather than later. 

Whether it's before or after his good friend in Minnesota.

Ben Arthur is the AFC South reporter for FOX Sports. He previously worked for The Tennessean/USA TODAY Network, where he was the Titans beat writer for a year and a half. He covered the Seattle Seahawks for for three seasons (2018-20) prior to moving to Tennessee. You can follow Ben on Twitter at @benyarthur.


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