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Tee Higgins Trade Rumors: NFL Teams Feel Bengals 'Willing to Listen' to Offers for WR

Adam Wells

Two weeks after Tee Higgins requested a trade from the Cincinnati Bengals, the organization is at least open to engaging with the possibility of moving the star wide receiver.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported on SportsCenter on Saturday that the Bengals have been "willing to listen" to offers for Higgins recently.

"He wants out, he has made the trade request. I talked to a few teams who are interested who believe that the Bengals are at least willing to listen. That's a little softer than they might have been a year ago where they definitely were not trading him. So, teams are going to try to pry him out. New England's been high-end shopping for receiver help, perhaps they try to give up a Day 2 pick to get Higgins."

The Bengals placed the franchise tag on Higgins on Feb. 26, more than one week before the March 5 deadline. The one-year tender for wide receivers is worth $21.8 million guaranteed in 2024.

It was assumed they acted so quickly because the two sides weren't close on a long-term deal and the club wanted to get out front on potential trade talks, though director of player personnel Duke Tobin and head coach Zac Taylor both pushed back on that notion.

"He's one of the top receivers in this league," Taylor told reporters at the NFL combine, "and we don't want that just walking out of the building. So when you've got an opportunity to put a tag on him and keep him in the building and let him play at least another season for us, I think that's critical."

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported on March 11 that Higgins requested a trade and he was "disappointed" because the Bengals haven't had any talks with his camp about a long-term extension since March 2023.

Even though the Bengals are reportedly willing to hear offers for Higgins, it's still unclear how motivated they are to move him. There's always the possibility he has an extended holdout if nothing happens, but we saw last year with multiple running backs who got tagged that it's very hard for players to truly threaten teams by missing games and not getting paid.

Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs were able to leverage their holdouts into a little more money than the tag value from their teams last year, but they still wound up playing on one-year deals because they were unable to sign long-term extensions prior to the deadline for tagged players to do so.

The Bengals are still $27.7 million under the cap right now, even with Higgins' $21.8 million salary factored in. They could go into next season with him on their roster and be fine financially.

For a team that's going to have Super Bowl aspirations if Joe Burrow is healthy, it wouldn't be the worst strategy to keep Higgins and Ja'Marr Chase together for one more year.

It doesn't sound like that's what Higgins wants, especially if he can secure a long-term contract from another organization.

The Bengals might be better off dragging this out until the NFL draft when teams that might miss out on one of the top receivers decide to make a more enticing offer for Higgins.

Injuries limited Higgins to just 12 games last season. He recorded career-lows in targets (76), receptions (42), receiving yards (656) and touchdowns (five). The 25-year-old averaged 72 receptions, 1,009 yards and six touchdowns in his first three seasons from 2020 to '22.

   

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