No Talks Yet Between Bengals, Tee Higgins

The Jaguars’ Josh Allen extension thinned the NFL’s 2024 pool of tagged players to two (down from nine in early March), the situations involving the remaining two will be magnified. The Buccaneers are optimistic about an extension for Antoine Winfield Jr., while it is unclear if the Bengals intend to extend Tee Higgins.

Higgins sent out a trade request just before free agency, but the Bengals have not budged. Cincinnati decision-makers indicated at the owners meetings they intend for the team’s No. 2 wide receiver to be part of the 2024 roster. Higgins may well be staring at a rental season, with Joe Burrow‘s contract not yet into its deep waters in terms of cap numbers.

Making it clear Ja’Marr Chase is their top priority at receiver, Higgins may eventually need to land a second contract from another team. Unless the Bengals change their mind on a trade, the former second-round pick is stuck. As of Thursday, no talks between the Bengals and Higgins have taken place,’s Matt Miller notes. If the Bengals are not merely planning on a rental season, they still have plenty of time here. They and the Bucs have until July 15 to extend their tagged performers.

It would be surprising if the Bengals buckled here. They executed a rental season with Jessie Bates two years ago, tagging the standout safety and letting him walk in free agency in 2023. The 2022 season featured Bates play a key role for a Bengals team that was probably a historically ill-timed late hit away from overtime in the AFC championship game. The old-school organization planning to have Higgins in 2024 points to the Clemson alum potentially staring at this situation again in 2025.

With Burrow on his way back from the wrist surgery that ended his 2023 season and crushed the Bengals’ contention aspirations, the team running back the Chase-Higgins tandem back for a fourth season in hopes of dethroning the Chiefs would make sense. Even with Higgins’ $21.82MM tag on the books, the Bengals still hold more than $23MM in cap space.

The Bengals receiving a big trade package for Higgins could conceivably change its plans, but with an acquiring team needing to hammer out an extension, that would stand to reduce the compensation Cincy would receive in a trade. Higgins, 25, resides in a similar situation to Brandon Aiyuk. Because Aiyuk was a first-round pick, however, he is a year behind Higgins on what could be a multiyear cycle (fifth-year option, franchise tag) with the 49ers.

It would cost the Bengals more than $26MM to tag Higgins again in 2025. Burrow’s cap number, however, spikes from $29.7MM this year to $46.3MM in 2025. The Bengals already have three void years in Burrow’s deal to spread out his signing bonus. Chase will be due a $21.82MM fifth-year option in 2025, though an extension could reduce that number and potentially make a second Higgins tag affordable.

Higgins has two 1,000-yard seasons under his belt, but he slumped to just 656 — after being unimpressed with a Bengals extension offer — in an injury-altered 2023. The 6-foot-4 pass catcher would stand to be in position to move back on track thanks to Burrow’s return, and it is also possible the Bengals pass on a 2025 re-tag move and let the standout sidekick hit the market. Then again, we certainly could be back here again next year, when tag-and-trade rumors could pick up more steam as the Bengals’ other contracts on offense force a final decision on Higgins.

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