Unless the two sides re-open discussions in-season, it appears Higgins will play out the final year of his rookie contract.
BREAKING: The #Bengals and Tee Higgins have not agreed to a contract extension prior to tomorrow’s opener, according to sources.— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) September 9, 2023
Higgins has quickly emerged as one of the NFL’s premier young WRs and one of Joe Burrow’s favorite targets.
Still just 24 years old, Higgins - who’s… pic.twitter.com/P0YeJZhM59
Adding to this, the Minnesota Vikings and Justin Jefferson failed to reach a contract extension as well. That matters for Cincinnati, as Jefferson’s deal was going to reset the wide receiver market and potentially give the Bengals an idea of what they’ll need to pay Higgins.
Vikings’ All-Pro WR Justin Jefferson is not expected to sign a contract extension before Sunday’s opener, per sources. Both sides made a strong effort to get a deal done, but the plan now is to revisit after the season.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 9, 2023
Adding to her earlier report, Kelsey Conway believes that Tee Higgins is not in the Bengals’ future plans. She also says it “doesn’t seem likely” that the Bengals will utilize the franchise tag on Higgins next offseason.
That all seems rather shocking, if true,
WR Tee Higgins is not believed to be in the Bengals future plans, a source tells me— Kelsey Conway (@KelseyLConway) September 8, 2023
The two sides never got close on an extension. Unless something "shocking" happens in next 24 hrs, he will play this play the season w/ no long-term deal from Cincyhttps://t.co/oyEhmGRfmw
Joe Burrow’s deal is done. Will Tee Higgins get his next?
For pretty much the entire offseason, the belief was the Cincinnati Bengals would prioritize extending Burrow, then do the same with Higgins, who is entering the final year of his four-year rookie contract.
It took a while to get Burrow’s deal wrapped up, but it happened with enough time to ‘think’ the Bengals could now focus on getting a deal done for Higgins before Sunday’s opener vs. the Cleveland Browns.
Unfortunately, that’s highly unlikely to happen, according to Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Kelsey Conway, who even said it would be “shocking” if a deal gets done before Sunday’s kickoff.
Tee Higgins and the Bengals are not close/ never got close on a contract extension, per a source with knowledge of the situation— Kelsey Conway (@KelseyLConway) September 8, 2023
Unless something “shocking” happens in next 24 hours, a long-term extension is not expected to happen before Sunday
The Bengals don’t typically hand out big contract extensions during the season, but they should make an exception with Higgins, depending on how much his agent is asking for.
While Higgins is entering the final year of his deal, the Bengals do have some leverage in the form of the franchise tag. This could turn into the same scenario that played out in the 2022 offseason with Jessie Bates, who was hit with the tag after his four-year rookie deal was up. He sat out most of the offseason, training camp, and the preseason, then returned for Week 1 that season before hitting unrestricted free agency this past offseason.
Unless the Bengals and Higgins can work out a deal during the regular season, that scenario is very much in play for the 2024 offseason.
What do you think will happen with Higgins?