Bengals Head Coach Zac Taylor Weighs In on Absences of Tee Higgins, Ja’Marr Chase, Others

The Cincinnati Bengals were without their top two receivers in Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins again today, but coach Zac Taylor is unperturbed.

CINCINNATI – No Ja’Marr Chase, no Tee Higgins. No surprise.

As the Cincinnati Bengals moved into Phase III of the voluntary offseason program and quarterback Joe Burrow threw against the defense for the first time, the team’s top two receivers were not on the field.

Higgins remains disgruntled by the lack of progress toward a contract extension, which led to him requesting a trade earlier in the offseason. He has yet to sign the franchise tag that will pay him a guaranteed $21.8 million in 2024.

Until Higgins signs the franchise tag — which likely won’t happen until some point during training camp at the earliest — he is ineligible to participate.

Tee Higgins, 3 Other Bengals Players Not Present for First OTA Practice

The situation is different with Chase, who, while eligible for an extension, is in no hurry to sign one and has no rift with the team.

As has been the case all spring, Chase is simply exercising his right not to participate in voluntary workouts, as are offensive tackle Trenton Brown and defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, two free agents the team signed in March.

Bengals head coach Zac Taylor did not seem bothered in the least by the absences while talking with reporters after today’s practice. Nor did he seem concerned about how not having Chase and Higgins will impact Burrow’s recovery and progress from the season-ending wrist surgery he had in November.

“I think that they’ll get to work in at the necessary time,” Taylor said. “I’m pleased we have a high turnout for voluntary workouts. I told the guys I understand it’s voluntary. I appreciate them showing up. The guys that don’t are still working hard elsewhere, and they’ll be back at the right times.

“The beauty is we know those guys, we know what they’re about, and that they’ll be ready and focused when it’s time to come back.”

Chase was present for voluntary on-field work in each of his first three Pro Bowl seasons.

Though he hasn’t been in Cincinnati since the team reported in April, Taylor said he and wide receivers coach Troy Walters have spoken with Chase and Higgins this offseason.

“Both of us. We touch base,” Taylor said. “I don’t call those guys every day. I’m not trying to wear them out. But again, they do an excellent job when I reach out, quickly getting back to me, making sure we’re in communication, making sure we know where they’re at in the process.

“Everything has been really positive with all those guys.”

While Higgins has four years of experience in Taylor’s offense and Chase has three, the same cannot be said for Brown, who signed a one-year, $4.8 million contract, and Rankins, who agreed to a two-year, $24.5 million deal.

Though they aren’t as familiar with the Bengals’ schemes, they have a combined 17 seasons in the NFL. And Taylor said that’s enough for him.

“There will be plenty of time where they’re here when they get the chance to make sure that they’re familiar with it,” Taylor said of Rankins and Brown. “They have the information, so I know that they’re staying on top of it. And when they get here and are able to get those reps, I know that those two guys are vets, and they’ll be in a real good spot.”

KEEP READING: Tee Higgins Signing Franchise Tag a Matter of When, Not If

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