Bengals’ Tee Higgins Signs Franchise Tender

While there’s still uncertainty surrounding Tee Higgins‘ future in Cincinnati, the wideout is now locked in for the 2024 campaign. The wide receiver has signed his franchise tender, reports Kelsey Conway of

With Higgins officially under contract for the 2024 campaign, the receiver is expected to be in attendance for the start of Bengals training camp. Higgins was a no-show at Bengals OTAs while his 2024 contract situation was unresolved, although he wasn’t subject to fines since he was unsigned. Higgins will now be tied to the $21.8MM WR franchise tag value for the 2024 season before hitting free agency (or potentially facing the same franchise-tag ordeal) next offseason.

While Higgins remains open to signing a long-term deal with the Bengals (per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport), an extension is still considered a “longshot” (per ESPN’s Adam Schefter). The last we heard, the Bengals did not approach $20MM per year when they last negotiated with Higgins’ camp. The two sides haven’t resumed negotiations since they ended more than a year ago. The Bengals and Higgins have until July 15 to agree to an extension, although the organization’s history suggests there probably won’t be an agreement.

In the meantime, the likes of Justin Jefferson, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and A.J. Brown have reset the receiver market to plus-$30MM annually. Higgins is rightfully pushing to be among the highest-paid at his position, but with the Bengals navigating Joe Burrow‘s pricey contract and Ja’Marr Chase‘s upcoming extension, the team doesn’t have the financial wiggle room to retain Higgins long-term. We heard the Bengals were likely going to treat Higgins as a “rental” for the 2024 campaign, with the understanding that the two sides would part ways following the season.

Still, both Higgins and the Bengals can be relieved that they’re temporarily avoiding the drama. The issues started back in March. After being eligible for an extension for more than a year, Higgins requested a trade. While he never really talked back the impending divorce, he eventually acknowledged that he’d probably stick around Cincinnati for the 2024 season…a potential hint that he’d eventually blink and sign the franchise tender.

While Higgins hasn’t matched the same top-end production as Chase, he’s still put up big numbers as the Bengals’ number-two option. The former second-round pick averaged more than 1,000 yards per season through his first three years in the NFL. Thanks in part to Burrow’s injury and a hamstring injury that limited Higgins to only 12 games, the wideout finished the 2023 campaign with career-lows in receptions (42), receiving yards (656), and touchdowns (five). He’ll be looking for a rebound season in 2024 before hitting free agency next offseason.

View Comments (24)