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Should the Bengals plan on using the franchise tag on Tee Higgins?

An interesting strategy...

Cincinnati Bengals Offseason Workout Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

We all know the Cincinnati Bengals have big contract decisions coming up. The monster Joe Burrow deal is looming, Logan Wilson needs a new contract, and so does Tee Higgins. On top of those, Ja’Marr Chase will be eligible for a new deal after this season.

As the Bengals navigate those decisions, fans and analysts have done what they do best: speculate.

Rumors of a Higgins extension floated around in the spring, but no deal ever came to fruition. Most assume the Burrow deal will be done soon and is a matter of structure. There hasn’t been much to come out on the Wilson front, but the narrative has been that the Bengals won’t be able to retain Higgins’ services.

Nate Tice and Robert Mays of The Athletic talked over several scenarios for Higgins on a recent The Athletic Football Show, and Tice brought up the franchise tag.

“I would (franchise) tag him and then figure it out later,” Tice said on the show. “Try and figure out the extension later, but at least have that tag. I mean we’ve seen other teams do this, the Bucs did this with (Chris) Godwin after they signed Mike Evans. So it’s not like the end of the world. They do have to thread a needle. You already see the transition happening. We’ve talked about this on several shows where you see them trying now to invest in the defense, in youth on the defense and cheap talent on the defense because they know their offense is about to get expensive.”

It is no secret that NFL players don’t like the franchise tag. Even with a large, one-year payday, players seek long-term security in a sport where major injury is a real threat every Sunday.

If tagged, Higgins would be looking at a full-guaranteed salary of likely over $20 million in 2024. While it would be a way to get another year of Higgins as he enters his prime, it may not be the outcome he’s looking for. His agent, David Mulugheta, is one of the tougher negotiators in the NFL, so a long-term deal won’t come easy, or cheap.

Here’s to hoping the tag isn’t necessary and the Bengals’ offense finds a way to keep Higgins around for years to come.