HomeTrade RumorsTee Higgins Expresses Desire to Stay with Bengals; Tag-and-Trade Unlikely

Tee Higgins Expresses Desire to Stay with Bengals; Tag-and-Trade Unlikely

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The offseason has officially begun for the Bengals, a team which fell short of expectations in 2023. Cincinnati faces a number of key decisions with respect to pending free agents, chief among them being wideout Tee Higgins.

The former second-rounder is set to reach the open market for the first time in his career, although the franchise tag looms as an option for the team to retain him for at least one more year. Higgins is an obvious tag candidate given his importance to Cincinnati’s offense and the lack of progress made on extension negotiations last offseason. He has received the backing of fellow WR Ja’Marr Chase as well as quarterback Joe Burrow for a deal of some kind, and he is indeed aiming to remain with the Bengals in 2024 and beyond.

“Them telling me that they want me to come back, man, it’s family,” Higgins said, via Bleacher Report’s Scott Polacek. “We’ve been playing together for three or four years now, and I personally would love to be back playing with those guys. It’s not in my hands now, but when the time comes and Cincinnati is there, that’s the number one option right now.”

The Bengals will no doubt reciprocate Higgins’ desire to continue their relationship for at least the short-term future. Cincinnati turned down trade interest both in the offseason and in advance of the trade deadline, leaving the door open to a potential departure. The sides have engaged in contract talks, but little traction has been gained on that front. Negotiations were tabled until the end of the campaign, and it will be interesting to see how much progress can be made in the coming weeks.

Given Higgins’ age (25 by the start of next season) and production (3,684 yards and 24 touchdowns in four seasons) a strong trade market would exist if the Bengals tagged him and looked to move on without the prospect of a multi-year agreement. However, Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic writes Higgins is essentially a lock to be in place for 2024 (subscription required). As a result, a tag-and-trade scenario would come as a surprise, even if talks on a long-term agreement did not produce an deal.

The Bengals will have other decisions to make at the receiver position beyond Higgins. Chase is eligible for a monster extension, although the team could buy more time for negotiations on that front by exercising his fifth-year option for 2025. That move will no doubt be made in any case, but the former No. 5 pick profiles as a higher extension priority than Higgins. Veteran Tyler Boyd, meanwhile, is a pending free agent and thus in danger of departing Cincinnati for the first time in his career.

The franchise tag for receivers is projected to come in at a cost of $21.66MM. Applying it would lock in Higgins for at least one season, and it would give both parties until mid-July to work out a longer agreement. If a trade is indeed off the table, though, it can at least be safely assumed he will get his wish of staying in Cincinnati for 2024 at a minimum.

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