HomeFootball DirtTee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals' Latest Update

Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals’ Latest Update

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The 2024 free agent receiver class has a number of intriguing names, including Tee Higgins. The Bengals should not be expected to let him reach the open market, but his future is nevertheless currently in the air.

Higgins’ rookie contract will expire in March, and a long-term deal would come at a significant cost given his age and production in Cincinnati. The Bengals are also in danger of losing veteran Tyler Boyd in free agency, and Ja’Marr Chase is now eligible for a second contract. The latter has lived up to expectations as one of the league’s top wideouts in his first three years, and ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler notes it is expected around the league that Chase will be a higher priority than Higgins from a financial perspective.

Chase is still under contract for 2024, and the Bengals will no doubt pick up his fifth-year option for the following season. Still, carrying both Chase and Higgins on lucrative second contracts (with quarterback Joe Burrow attached to his $55MM-per-year deal) for years to come would be a challenge. For that reason, many have pointed to Higgins as a franchise tag candidate; applying the one-year tender could open up a trade possibility allowing the Bengals to recoup at least some value for him.

At this time, however, a tag-and-trade does not appear likely. The Bengals received trade interest in the 2023 offseason and at the trade deadline, but they made it clear they were not looking to move Higgins. The 25-year-old has publicly stated an intention of remaining in Cincinnati, but outside interest remains strong. Fowler adds that multiple teams are prepared to pay Higgins as a No. 1 receiver.

The top of the WR market saw a substantial jump in value during the 2022 offseason, when Tyreek Hill became the position’s first member to reach $30MM in annual compensation. In all, 13 receivers are attached to deals averaging at least $20MM per season, and Higgins could likely do the same if he were to wind up on a team willing to pry him away from the Bengals. The Clemson product has averaged roughly 64 catches, 920 yards and six touchdowns per campaign in his career, figures brought down by his totals in an injury-marred 2023 campaign.

The stance the Bengals take with respect to their offseason priorities and where Higgins fits into them will be a key storyline to follow in the build-up to the franchise tag deadline (March 7) and the start of the new league year one week later. An outside market for his services still exists, but a mutual desire to keep him in Cincinnati could nevertheless produce a multi-year agreement. If talks on that front do not gain traction soon, though, questions about Higgins’ future for 2024 and beyond will remain.

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