Bengals Plan to Place a Franchise Tag on WR Tee Higgins

Tee Higgins with the Bengals in 2020
Tee Higgins with the Bengals in 2020. Photo by Trask Smith/CSM/Shutterstock (11667075fa)

After failing to reach a contract extension with wideout Tee Higgins, the Cincinnati Bengals will resort to a franchise tag in order to prevent him from entering free agency in March.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Bengals have already informed Higgins about their plans. The franchise tag will see Higgins earn a guaranteed salary of $21.8 million in 2024.

The Bengals’ move isn’t unexpected, considering how valuable Higgins has been for the franchise since entering the league as the second-round pick in 2020. He has been considered one of the best No. 2 wideouts in the league, recording 1,000+ yards in 2021 and 2022 campaigns.

The 2023 season was the least productive for Higgins in the NFL, as he missed five games dealing with a hamstring injury. He finished the year with 42 receptions for 656 yards and five touchdowns. Still, there is a belief that he would command top wide receiver money on the free market if he were to enter it.

While the Bengals value Higgins, they have been hesitant about signing him to a large deal. Handing quarterback Joe Burrow a five-year, $275 million extension last season and having their star wideout Ja’Marr Chase in line for a new deal, Cincinnati might not have much wiggle room in their salary cap to give Higgins the salary he likely wants.

By placing a franchise tag on Higgins, the Bengals are able to keep him for at least one season and delay their decision. They could also trade him and likely get a significant haul of draft picks, although that seems like an unlikely scenario at the moment.

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