Bengals’ rookie contracts give them tremendous “win now” advantage

Kristen Wong
Joe Burrow #9, Tee Higgins #85 and Ja'Marr Chase #1 of the Cincinnati Bengals. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Joe Burrow #9, Tee Higgins #85 and Ja'Marr Chase #1 of the Cincinnati Bengals. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

In a few years, the Cincinnati Bengals might be royally screwed. But on the bright side, they have their best chance at winning the Super Bowl *checks watch* right now.

Despite the fact that the AFC got significantly better this offseason, the Bengals’ championship window may only be open for a couple more years. After a historic Super Bowl run, the team’s financials have allowed them to keep their offensive and defensive nuclei while also spending in free agency.

That won’t be the case in the future.

Currently, Cincinnati’s QB, WR1, WR2, and LT are on all rookie contracts — these happen to be the most expensive spots in roster-building, so what the Bengals are paying for top-tier talents like Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase should be considered a garage-sale steal.

Even after adding quality upgrades to their offensive line, Cincy still has the cap space to go after a veteran big-name corner, one of their last remaining urgent needs. Then, it’s showtime.

Cincinnati Bengals must take advantage of precious Super Bowl window

This offseason, newly traded players reset the market for their respective positions groups, and the prices will likely keep rising. The Davante Adams trade led Tyreek Hill to get a $120 million dollar contract, making him the highest-paid receiver in the league. The Aaron Rodgers and Deshaun Watson extensions have irrevocably changed the quarterback landscape, with Watson’s contract setting a precedent for the amount of guaranteed money one can receive. No matter how controversial that quarterback is, we might add.

In the wake of all these blockbuster trades, the Bengals have to think they have one of the best bang-for-buck rosters in the AFC, if not the whole league. Burrow is getting paid $9 million a year, Chase is getting paid $7 million, and Higgins is practically getting pennies at $2 million a year.

While Cincinnati can eventually restructure player contracts to create more cap room in the future (See: New Orleans Saints), for the next couple seasons, these prices will be as cheap as these elite players come.

2022 is the year to rebuild — 2023 and 2024 are the years to win. Once the rookies play out their contracts, the rest of the league will be all over the Bengals’ young talents. We all thought Tyreek Hill would stay with Kansas, but look where he is now. Those saying “you can’t put a price on Burrow and Chase’s unique bond” are naively misled — you absolutely can.

Before star players outprice their stay in Cincinnati, the Bengals have a precious few years to win the Lombardi Trophy.

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After that, nothing is guaranteed.