The Cincinnati Bengals have made it past the bulk of free agency and the draft, but they may be even more busy now. They have several young stars in line for big paydays.
The biggest name is obviously quarterback Joe Burrow. Then you have wide receiver Tee Higgins and linebacker Logan Wilson. That may also be the order of priority as well.
We did see a rumor go around Twitter a little while ago that alluded to Higgins’ contract extension being nearly complete. Higgins was able to address these rumors for the first time while working out at the Bengals facility.
Tee Higgins on rumors his deal was done: "Yeah, I had a lot of people texting me, man. But I didn’t text them back. I knew there wasn’t nothing there. My mom texted me and was like, 'You got a deal done, son?' I was like, 'Mom, if I had a deal done you'd be the first to know.'"— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) May 16, 2023
Take from that what you will. It seems pretty cut and dry that a deal has not been finished. Some speculated the principles have been agreed to, but the Burrow extension needs to be done first or something to that effect.
Higgins is a huge priority to Cincinnati,
General Manager Director of Player Personnel Duke Tobin made that clear at the NFL Scouting Combine when asked about trade rumors revolving around Higgins. He told other teams to go get their own Higgins. The Bengals are also going to need to extend Ja’Marr Chase next season on top of all the deals this off-season.
All of this is very doable. You can see Cincinnati preparing their defense with premium picks, as they know they won’t be able to commit serious capital to that side of the ball in free agency if things go as planned.
There is also the ability to restructure deals while still playing the players and freeing up cap space. We have seen the Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs do this in recent off-seasons. It helps take the pressure off having to pay a franchise quarterback. This isn’t a move we have seen Cincinnati make, though.
Odds are a Higgins extension will get done at some point. Even if they don’t, they would likely use the franchise tag on Higgins next offseason to try and have more time to come to terms on a deal. We saw them do that unsuccessfully with safety Jessie Bates, who is now with the Atlanta Falcons.
The odds are better for Higgins, as the Bengals have traditionally been willing to pay top-dollar for franchise wide receivers. We will just have to wait and see.