Bengals WR Tee Higgins Not Expected To Sign Franchise Tender Before OTAs

Tee Higgins has yet to sign his franchise tender and doesn’t intend to. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Bengals wide receiver is not expected to sign the tender by next week, meaning he won’t be able to participate in the team’s upcoming OTAs.

[RELATED: Bengals Did Not Approach $20MM AAV In Higgins Talks]

Higgins can’t join the team until he signs the tender, the lone leverage he has during his ongoing quest for a new contract. The two sides have until July 15 to agree to a new deal. Otherwise, Higgins would be connected to the $21.82MM salary for the 2024 campaign.

After getting slapped with the franchise tag, Higgins requested a trade out of Cincinnati. The receiver later admitted that he’d likely play out the 2024 campaign with the Bengals, although that was mostly due to his lack of alternatives vs. any progress in contract talks.

Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow extension and its plans for a Ja’Marr Chase payday — its top WR priority — have led many to believe that a Higgins extension is untenable. We heard last month that Bengals didn’t approach a $20MM average annual value in their latest offer to Higgins, cutting off the talks relatively quickly. The two sides didn’t discuss guarantees, although that was reportedly an issue between the parties last summer.

As Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic points out, the current Higgins holdout is an “exact replica” of Jessie Bates‘ standoff with the Bengals in 2022. Bates ended up holding out until August, right before the signing deadline for franchise tenders. The safety played out the 2022 campaign on his franchise value before getting a pay day from the Falcons in free agency.

It’s previously been suggested that the Bengals could treat Higgins similarly. This route would come with the understanding that Higgins would be a “rental” for the 2024 season, and the two sides would likely part ways when the receiver hits free agency next offseason.

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