Tee Higgins

Bengals WR 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 Cincinnati.com.

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.

Bengals, Tee Higgins Have Not Discussed Extension Since Early 2023

Although the “deadlines spur action” disclaimer applies, no signs point to the Bengals reaching an extension with Tee Higgins by the July deadline. Higgins stands alone among this year’s tagged contingent, as the seven franchise players and transition-tagged Kyle Dugger have since been locked up long term.

With Ja’Marr Chase the priority for the Bengals at wide receiver, Higgins resides in limbo. The former second-round pick has been there a while. The Bengals did not approach $20MM per year when they last negotiated with Higgins’ camp. Those talks transpired more than a year ago, with ESPN.com’s Ben Baby indicating the parties have not resumed negotiations since they broke off.

Going more than a year without talking terms covers most of Higgins’ time as an extension-eligible player. The Clemson alum became eligible for a long-term deal in January 2023. As it stands, the Bengals may be in the early stages of a rental arrangement.

Higgins requested a trade in March but said later he expects to play this season with the Bengals. Not exactly a team known for coming off its position — as the Jonah Williams and Trey Hendrickson situations recently remind — the Bengals could be interested in a multiyear rental setup.

The Bengals have Higgins tied to a $21.8MM franchise tag. Higgins, 25, has not signed his franchise tender and joins Chase in staying away from Bengals workouts. It should not be expected Chase’s sidekick resurfaces anytime soon. Jessie Bates‘ 2022 run on the franchise tag involved the standout safety staying away well into training camp; Higgins and Bates share an agent. The fifth-year receiver cannot be fined for a failure to report due as long as he refrains from signing his tender.

Should Higgins and the Bengals not come to terms by July 15, the sides cannot resume negotiations until season’s end. The Bengals would have the option of re-tagging Higgins, at 120% of his 2024 salary, in 2025. That would make for an interesting plan, as receiver salaries skyrocket — to the point Chase should be in commanding position when this year’s round of deals wrap. This would certainly not go over well with Higgins, who would be denied multiple key windows to capitalize on his earning potential. That said, the Bengals could retain their WR2 for $26.2MM in 2025.

That would be a lofty cap number, especially as Joe Burrow‘s cap hit spikes from $29.6MM to $46.2MM, but the Bengals are projected to hold — several months out, at least — more than $45MM in cap space next year. Going by the pace of these negotiations and the statuses of Burrow and Chase, the prospect of Higgins being cuffed once again should not be discounted.

With Amon-Ra St. Brown, A.J. Brown and Jaylen Waddle signing extensions, Higgins’ price stands to rise. Even if Higgins could be on track for a second-tier WR contract, this year’s early deals will help his cause — whenever he enjoys the chance to negotiate. The Bengals not going near $20MM per year in 2023 would suggest the sides would not be close now, especially after Higgins’ underwhelming 2023 (656 receiving yards, five touchdowns).

The Bengals’ history with the franchise tag furthers evidence Higgins is highly unlikely to be extended this year. Prior to Higgins, Cincinnati has tagged 10 players since the tag’s debut in 1993 — Bates, A.J. Green, defensive end Michael Johnson, kickers Mike Nugent and Shayne Graham, tackle Stacy Andrews, defensive lineman Justin Smith, running back Rudi Johnson, wideout Carl Pickens, D-tackle Dan Wilkinson); only two (Johnson, Pickens) signed an extension with before that year’s deadline. The Johnson deal transpired back in 2005. (Nugent also circled back to an extension the following year.) While Higgins is obviously a central piece in the Bengals’ Super Bowl quest, his 12-plus-month negotiating wait continues.

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.

Bengals Did Not Approach $20MM AAV During Previous Tee Higgins Talks

No news about Tee Higgins-Bengals extension talks has surfaced this year, leading to a trade request — as seven of the other nine 2024 tag recipients agreed to deals. But the Bengals did discuss terms with Higgins last year; those talks did not go well.

With Ja’Marr Chase on track for an expected record-setting receiver extension, it is not certain if the Bengals have a Higgins extension — at least, not one at the rate the Cincinnati WR2 would seek — in their plans. Just before last season, a report surfaced the Bengals and Higgins were not close on terms. This prompted the two-time 1,000-yard pass catcher to play out his rookie contract without further extension talks transpiring.

[RELATED: Bengals Exercise Ja’Marr Chase’s Fifth-Year Option]

No reports of another round of Bengals-Higgins talks have surfaced, and the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Kelsey Conway provides more details on the latest round of discussions. The Bengals did not come close to the $20MM-per-year number for Higgins when the sides last talked, and Conway adds the gap that formed — in terms of AAV — cut off extension talks fairly early. The sides did not discuss guarantees.

Guarantees were rumored to be an issue between the parties last summer, but it is unclear if guaranteed money — beyond the $21.82MM franchise tag the Bengals applied in February — has entered the equation yet. In terms of comps, Conway adds Higgins was seeking a deal in line with the numbers Michael Pittman Jr. agreed to (three years, $70MM). This would have placed Higgins in the range Terry McLaurin, Deebo Samuel and D.K. Metcalf established in 2022.

Higgins’ receiving numbers are comparable to these players, and had he hit the open market like Calvin Ridley did, a deal north of where the Titans went (four years, $96MM) would have been likely. Not counting Higgins’ tag, 17 wideouts are now attached to deals worth $20MM or more per year.

Eyeing another run at a Super Bowl, the Bengals predictably used the tag on Higgins, who joins Buccaneers safety Antoine Winfield Jr. as the only tag recipients this year unsigned. While Tampa Bay has extension plans for its All-Pro DB, Cincy might be content letting Higgins play a season on the tag. The team has no plans to trade Higgins, who expects to be with the Bengals in 2024.

Keeping Higgins on a rental agreement would stand to align with the Bengals’ Chase and Joe Burrow contracts. Chase remains on his rookie contract, and only one wide receiver — DeVonta Smith — has signed an extension with two years of rookie-deal control remaining in the fifth-year option era. The Bengals waited until Year 5 to extend A.J. Green in 2015, pointing to a 2025 Chase agreement. Burrow’s five-year, $275MM extension also will spike from $29.7MM to $46.3MM from 2024-25. These two situations open a window for the Bengals to retain Higgins on the tag, though the long-term outlooks for Burrow and Chase complicate matters regarding an extension for the 2020 second-round pick.

It will be interesting if the Bengals make another offer. They did make Jessie Bates an offer before the 2022 tag deadline, but the proposal was believed to be low on guarantees, calling into question how interested Cincinnati was in a long-term Bates deal. Unless an extension is reached or Higgins is re-tagged in 2025, will be in position, the 6-foot-4 target will be positioned as one of the top players on next year’s market.

WR Tee Higgins Expects To Play For Bengals In 2024

Bengals veteran wide receiver Tee Higgins has had an interesting offseason so far. Despite a number of headlines over the past couple of months that seem to point to an exit out of Cincinnati for the 25-year-old, Higgins gave a soundbite today that appeared to insinuate quite the opposite. Ari Meirov of The 33rd Team provided footage of Higgins telling the media that he anticipates playing with the Bengals in the 2024 NFL season.

After hearing for much of the 2023 season that the team wanted to reach a new extension with Higgins, the Bengals opened the offseason by applying the franchise tag to their No. 2 receiver. The Clemson-product didn’t respond well to the tagging, eventually opting to request a trade about two weeks later. Cincinnati responded a few days after, declaring that they had no intentions of honoring Higgins’ request and planned to keep him.

Despite these intentions, we heard earlier today that there had been no discussions yet between the Bengals and Higgins concerning a new contract. Out of nine players who received the franchise tag to start the offseason, only Buccaneers safety Antoine Winfield Jr. and Higgins remained unsigned to new contracts. While Tampa Bay appears optimistic about their chances to extend Winfield, we haven’t gotten any such indications from Cincinnati.

Higgins’ interview today provided us with the best view into the situation we’ve seen yet. The team has been trying (and failing) to reach agreeable terms on a long-term deal with Higgins for the past two years, so it makes sense that Higgins is able to take this stalemate in stride. The two side still have until 4PM ET on July 15 to reach a long-term deal, but if that doesn’t occur, Higgins will still be sure to receive a fully guaranteed one-year, $21.8MM contract by signing the franchise tag.

The team would do well to get a new deal done with Higgins sooner rather than later, though. The Bengals will soon be opening up extension talks with star wideout Ja’Marr Chase, and another young star, Justin Jefferson in Minnesota, will likely work alongside Chase to completely reset the market at receiver. Even if it means spending a little more than desired, Cincinnati could save some money by making sure to extend Higgins before the market for receivers inflates.

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, ESPN.com’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.

Bengals Intend To Keep Tee Higgins; Ja’Marr Chase Extension Talks Have Not Begun

It came as no surprise when the Bengals used the franchise tag on Tee Higgins, but he has since requested a trade. Questions about the standout receiver’s future have lingered in the absence of a long-term contract, but a deal sending him out of Cincinnati should still not be expected.

When speaking at the league meetings earlier this week, head coach Zac Taylor confirmed (via Kelsey Conway of the Cincinnati Enquirer) Higgins is firmly in the team’s plans for 2024. That falls in line with recent reporting on the matter, which indicated no trade talks have taken place to date. EVP Katie Blackburn has echoed Taylor’s sentiment.

“The plan is to certainly get through this year,” Blackburn said of Higgins (via Conway). “Our job is to get to these next phases, start looking at the whole overall roster and see how we can fit everything together. We’ll see how it all comes out.”

Higgins is due $21.82MM on the tag this season, a massive raise compared to his rookie contract earnings and likely a rough starting point on the value of a long-term agreement. The 25-year-old has topped 900 yards three times in his career, but a monster second contract would of course be more viable for Higgins on a team using him as its top wideout. That role belongs to Ja’Marr Chase in Cincinnati, and he is expected to be a higher financial priority moving forward.

Chase is eligible for an extension, having played three seasons in the league. The former No. 5 pick has lived up to expectations when healthy, racking up 3,717 yards and 29 touchdowns to date (despite missing five contests last year and one more in 2023). Chase is a candidate to land the most lucrative WR deal in the NFL, something which is also true of former LSU teammate Justin Jefferson.

Notably, Blackburn acknowledged (in a separate Conway piece) extension talks with Chase have not yet begun. “That’s sort of the next thing is just to piece together some of those things to consider and give it some thought,” she said. “I can’t say for sure where any of it will go. But we certainly are going to study up on it and see what we can figure out to try to get the best result we can for the club one way or another.”

With Joe Burrow on the books via the $55MM-per-year extension he signed last offseason, the challenge of retaining both Higgins and Chase long term will be a notable one. The latter can (and no doubt will) be retained through 2025 via the fifth-year option, buying the team as much as another offseason to work out a mega-deal. Chase’s market will be shaped by that of Jefferson, who was unable to finalize an agreement with the Vikings last offseason.

As a result, Tyreek Hill‘s $30MM AAV still leads the field at the receiver position. Jefferson and CeeDee Lamb are among the extension-eligible wideouts who could surpass that figure, along with Chase. The Bengals’ financial approach will remain one to watch closely with plenty still to be determined in the short- and long-term future.

Jets Continuing To Explore Trade Market For WRs; Latest On Tee Higgins

Even as they have set about overhauling their offensive line, the Jets have been linked to a number of wide receivers in the free agent and trade markets. For instance, New York was reportedly interested in trading for Keenan Allen before the Chargers shipped him to the Bears, and the club inquired on Jerry Jeudy as well. Likewise, Gang Green is believed to have interest in FA Tyler Boyd and will soon visit with the recently-released Mike Williams.

As of the time of this writing, GM Joe Douglas has been unable to add to Aaron Rodgers‘ contingent of pass catchers. Unsurprisingly, however, Douglas is still exploring the trade market, as ESPN’s Rich Cimini writes.

It is unclear if Douglas will have much success in that regard. While Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins has requested a trade, Cincinnati has stated that it intends to keep the franchise-tagged talent, and per Albert Breer of SI.com, that is not just GM-speak. The club truly does want to run back the Ja’Marr Chase/Higgins tandem for at least one more season, and Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports says no trade conversations between the Bengals and the Panthers, another team in search of WR help, have taken place. Per Jones, Carolina and Cincinnati are unlikely to line up on a Higgins trade, even though the Panthers now have pick nos. 33 and 39 to offer.

On the other hand, Breer thinks that the Bengals may get an offer that is too good to turn down as the draft approaches, just as the Titans did when they dealt A.J. Brown on draft night several years ago (although that ill-fated decision on Tennessee’s part may prove to be a cautionary tale for Cincinnati). Whether such an offer is made, and whether that offer comes from Douglas — who is under pressure to win now — remains to be seen.

Instead of a trade for a player like Higgins or the 49ers’ Brandon Aiyuk — who may or may not be in line for a second contract with San Francisco — Cimini believes it is more logical to add a mid-tier FA like Boyd while taking advantage of a deep pool of collegiate wideouts. Although the Jets are without a second-round choice in 2024 and will therefore not make their second selection until they are on the clock with the No. 72 overall pick, the depth of this year’s WR class means that they can still get an impact player with that pick.

In addition to Williams and Boyd, Cimini says Odell Beckham Jr. could be a Douglas target in free agency. The Ravens aggressively outbid other suitors, including the Jets, for Beckham’s services last year, but even though Beckham turned in a mostly healthy season and was a key complementary piece in Baltimore’s passing game in 2023, the club is unlikely to re-sign him. Beckham will likely not come close to the $15MM guarantee he secured from the Ravens, and Douglas could view him as a worthy ancillary weapon who could be had for a relatively low cost.

Bengals WR Tee Higgins Requests Trade

To no surprise, the Bengals used the franchise tag on wideout Tee Higgins and in doing so prevented him from reaching free agency. He could still be playing on a new team by the start of the 2024 season, though. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports Higgins has requested a trade.

This is complicated territory for the Bengals, who may well be renting Higgins via the tag. Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow extension and its plans for a Ja’Marr Chase payday — its top WR priority — may make a Higgins extension untenable. But the team carved out enough cap space for a Higgins tag this year. The team’s No. 2 wideout may not be on board with the team’s plan, one that would delay his long-term payday by a year.

The Bengals saw their hopes at breaking through for a Super Bowl title dashed when Burrow went down in November. A Higgins tag would offer a mulligan of sorts, keeping the Burrow-Chase-Higgins window open for one more year. Player personnel director Duke Tobin, who shot down Higgins trade rumors at the 2023 Combine, recently said a tag-and-trade scenario was unlikely.

The message is we really like Tee and we’re a better team with Tee. In terms of our intentions and answering hypotheticals, I won’t get into that,” Tobin said, via the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Charlie Goldsmith. “We feel like we’re a better team with him. The reason we franchised him is we’d like to have him.”

Tag rentals have been going on since the NFL introduced the player-retention tool in 1993, and standout wide receivers regularly need to wait until Year 5 for a payday. CeeDee Lamb and Justin Jefferson are in this boat, due to being first-round picks in 2020, and Chase will probably join them. The Bengals picking up Chase’s fifth-year option can allow them to table extension talks to 2025.

Cincinnati dealing Higgins would hurt its chances of winning a championship this year, though the receiver market not including Mike Evans (re-signed) or Michael Pittman Jr. (tagged) could make offers for the Clemson alum tempting. Higgins would certainly fetch a strong haul for the Bengals, and Cincy tagging Higgins so early could have been interpreted as a way for the team to see what a trade would bring back. But this is an old-school organization that typically does not give in on these fronts. It will be interesting to see if any traction develops here.

Bengals Use Franchise Tag On Tee Higgins

The Bengals have a number of pending free agents to deal with heading into the new league year, but the team has made the decision to cover their bases with wide receiver Tee Higgins by informing him that they will apply the franchise tag to him in 2024, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. The team has since announced the move.

If Higgins had been selected one pick earlier in 2020, Cincinnati may have been enjoying the luxury of a fifth-year option right now. Instead, as the first pick of the second round, Higgins’ four-year rookie contract has now come to an end. One of the more consistent producers of the past four years, Higgins was sure to draw a nice deal in free agency.

[RELATED: 2024 NFL Franchise Tag Candidates]

The franchise tag numbers were released by the NFL today, informing us that the Bengals move will cost them $21.82MM. The Bengals will now have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal, and as Tony Pauline of Sportskeeda.com writes, Cincy is currently trying to do just that. If player and team cannot come to terms by the March 5 deadline for utilizing the franchise tag, the Bengals will hit Higgins with the tag but will continue extension discussions.

As a rookie, Higgins took over in a receiving room that included Tyler Boyd and an aging A.J. Green. He would lead the team in both receiving yards (908) and touchdowns (six). His sophomore season, Higgins watched a rookie Ja’Marr Chase do the same thing he had done his rookie year. Despite improving his yards (1,091) and matching his touchdown total (six) from the previous year in two fewer games, Higgins was outpaced by Chase’s stellar rookie totals. In 2022, the two established themselves one of the premier receiving duos in the league as Higgins once again surpassed the 1,000-yard mark and caught seven touchdowns.

In this season’s contract year, Higgins failed to deliver a fourth straight strong season to really bolster his free agency resume. Still, despite missing five games, Higgins was second on the team with five touchdown receptions and was 11 yards short of finishing second in receiving yards, as well. Had he played the extra five games, he would’ve been on pace to see similar numbers to his rookie year; this all despite the season-ending injury to star quarterback Joe Burrow.

Regardless, the Bengals have had to set their sights on the futures of all three of their top receivers, including veteran Tyler Boyd. Chase still has two years on his rookie deal, including the fifth-year option, but as one of the league’s best young wideouts, Cincinnati should feel early pressure to get him inked to a long-term deal sooner rather than later. Boyd also faces free agency after finishing out his four-year, $43MM extension. The Bengals famously are not fans of doling out third contracts to veterans, but they did break their own rule by extending defensive end Trey Hendrickson last year. It will be interesting to see if Boyd returns or if Cincinnati goes in a younger direction.

While decisions on Chase and Boyd remain, Higgins’ situation becomes a bit less pressing now. As noted above, the Bengals will continue working on an extension to keep Higgins around long-term, but by applying the franchise tag, they’ve laid out a safety net that buys them a bit more time.

For now, this puts Higgins just under the average annual value of players like Deebo Samuel and Terry McLaurin and just over players like D.J. Moore and Keenan Allen. Cincinnati holds $72.84MM of cap space, after the release of the new salary cap numbers today, good for fifth-most in the league. The Bengals will need every bit of it to navigate some of the contract decisions they’ll have to make moving forward.