While a Joe Burrow contract extension is expected to get done, things are not looking so good with Tee Higgins.
According to ESPN’s Dan Graziano, an extension for Higgins doesn’t appear close to being finalized. That’s because Higgins and his agent are likely eyeing similar deals that fellow star wideouts Justin Jefferson (Minnesota Vikings) and CeeDee Lamb (Dallas Cowboys) get with their respective teams.
The Cincinnati Bengals don’t typically hand out major extensions during the regular season, but they’ll likely need to break that trend if an extension is done with Higgins, assuming a deal isn’t reached before Sunday’s 1 pm ET kickoff with the Cleveland Browns.
There’s some speculation around the industry that the final structure of Burrow’s deal could depend on whether a Higgins deal gets done before it, and Burrow himself has talked about structuring a deal that allows Cincinnati to keep its great young core together.
But the Higgins deal is not done and might not be anytime soon, as the market for high-end wide receiver deals is likely awaiting resolutions on Justin Jefferson in Minnesota and CeeDee Lamb in Dallas. And the Bengals know star wideout Ja’Marr Chase is eligible for an extension next offseason. If they can’t come to a resolution with Higgins, he and the Colts’ Michael Pittman Jr. (another 2020 second-round pick who doesn’t have to worry about the fifth-year option the way first-rounders do) could be the headliners of next spring’s free agent wide receiver class.
Originally a second-round pick by way of the Clemson Tigers in the 2020 NFL Draft, Higgins quickly established himself as one of the game’s best receivers, averaging just over 1,000 yards receiving in each of his first three seasons.
This past season, Higgins played in 16 regular-season games and caught 74 passes for 1,029 yards and seven touchdowns. In three playoff games, he caught 13 passes for 148 yards and one score.
During the Bengals’ four-game Super Bowl run in the prior season, the Tennessee native hauled in 18 grabs for 309 yards and two scores.
My guess is the Bengals and Higgins will work on getting a deal done in-season, but if they can’t agree to one, he gets the franchise tag next offseason.
Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.