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Bengals’ Chase admits it’ll be hard to keep him and Higgins together

PHOENIX — The Cincinnati Bengals’ young core of Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins is a hard combination to stop.

Although they came up just short of a second consecutive trip to the Super Bowl this season, the Bengals’ championship window is seemingly wide open – if they can keep the trio together, that is. 

The attention has shifted to the Bengals’ pocketbook in the offseason. Burrow and Higgins are both entering the final year of their rookie contracts (the Bengals have until May 1 to exercise Burrow’s fifth-year option) and both are eligible for extensions. Cincinnati is expected to sign Burrow to a long-term deal, but Higgins’ future with the team isn’t as certain.  

‘It would be nice for Tee (Higgins) to be on the same side with me still as long as we can go,’ Chase told USA TODAY Sports at Super Bowl 57 Radio Row at the Phoenix Convention Center. ‘Somebody later down the line is going to have to do something for us to have this team stay together.’

Both Chase and Higgins racked up 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons. Chase, who considers himself ‘the best receiver in the league,’ is entering the third year of his rookie contract and is eligible for an extension next offseason.

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When asked how the franchise can keep him and Higgins, Chase said, ‘I really don’t know.’ But Chase believes Higgins has the talent to be ‘one of the best in the league.’ 

‘He’s a great receiver man. He’s an outstanding guy,’ Chase said. ‘Tee is ridiculous. He can run routes. He can go up and get it, the acrobatic catches. He made some plays this year that I’ve never seen.’

Chase also talked about uplifting another teammate: Defensive end Joseph Ossai, who committed a costly penalty in the AFC championship game loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. 

Ossai was flagged for unnecessary roughness after hitting Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes out of bounds with 8 seconds left. The 15-yard penalty set up a winning 45-yard field goal for Kansas City.

‘While all that was going on, we had a team talk behind closed doors and cameras. You know just prayed and made sure everybody is on the same page and showed love for each other,’ Chase said. ‘I know Joe (Burrow) told the whole team he loves them. We all said the same thing to one another. Being around each other every day and just knowing that anything can happen in a matter of seconds. It’s scary. Just taking advantage and living in the moment.’

He continued: ‘As an athlete, we go through a lot of things in the football season and an ‘L’ is the worst one. Letting it go is probably the hardest, but the next game is always the biggest game. That’s how you have to think about it. If you’re not ready for the next game mentally, then you are going to mess up yourself.’

This post appeared first on USA TODAY

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