HomeFootball DirtTop 5 Stories of the Week: February 18th to February 25th, 2024

Top 5 Stories of the Week: February 18th to February 25th, 2024

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The franchise tag window opened marking the start of a crucial period in the NFL calendar leading up to free agency. Already resulting in one significant move, more are expected to come. In case you missed the top stories from this past week, here is a quick recap:

  • Bengals Tag Higgins: The franchise tag window opened on February 20, and the Bengals wasted no time in placing the one-year tender on wideout Tee Higgins. The 25-year-old, who would have been a top free agent at his position, expressed a mutual desire to remain with the team. It was expected that he would stay in Cincinnati for another season. However, the team will need to negotiate a significant extension for Ja’Marr Chase to pair with Joe Burrow’s record-breaking contract, leading to speculation about a potential tag-and-trade or Higgins’ departure in 2025. Negotiations for a multi-year deal can continue with Higgins until July 15.
  • Historic Salary Cap Increase: The NFL revealed a record-high salary cap ceiling of $255.4MM for 2024, marking a significant increase from the previous year. Teams had prepared for a lower cap projection, so they now have extra flexibility in their offseason planning. As teams work towards cap compliance, the clarity provided by franchise tag and fifth-year option values has helped streamline financial decisions across the league.
  • Bears Eyeing QB Decision: The Bears, holding the No. 1 pick in the draft, face a decision on whether to select a successor for Justin Fields or retain him for another season. Other teams have shown interest in Fields, potentially leading to a trade scenario. The Bears coaching staff and executives have praised Fields, presenting an intriguing option for any team in need of a quarterback.
  • Raiders Interested In Top Pick: If the Bears retain Fields, the Raiders are considering trading up in the draft to secure a top quarterback prospect. With uncertainty surrounding Jimmy Garoppolo, the Raiders are seeking to bolster their QB position and may need to make a bold move to land a top prospect.
  • Evans Likely To Reach Free Agency: The Buccaneers face the possibility of wide receiver Mike Evans hitting free agency as contract talks have not progressed. Evans, a perennial 1,000-yard receiver, could be a sought-after free agent this offseason. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers have other negotiations to focus on, including a new deal for franchise tag candidate Antoine Winfield Jr. and quarterback Baker Mayfield. Despite efforts to secure Mayfield, Evans’ departure remains a possibility.

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