The Cincinnati Bengals 2023 season didn’t go as many hoped. The health of Joe Burrow really impacted the championship aspirations the team had during the offseason. Now they will face another offseason filled with the tough objective of retaining as many pieces of that roster as possible.
The biggest name on that list this offseason is wide receiver Tee Higgins. His rookie contract is set to expire, and he could become an unrestricted free agent. That possibility is extremely unlikely as the Bengals could also franchise tag the receiver to at least receive some sort of compensation.
The Bengals will place the franchise tag on Higgins instead of trading him to another team as often rumored. They are currently sixth in projected cap space for 2024 and can easily fit the franchise tag into their budget and keep this high-end offense rolling. — Schatz
There is a good portion of fans who would be surprised by this, but it really won’t be that surprising of an outcome to those who have watched how the Bengals front office operates. Schatz is totally correct that it seems that Cincinnati plans on at least fitting Higgins’ franchise tag under the cap and having him play 2024.
The Bengals have historically really valued the wide receiver position, and it is not lost on them how good they have it with Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase to go with Burrow. It is likely that they view having those three as a reason to expect this team to compete for a Super Bowl, which isn’t wrong since it worked out that way two out of three seasons.
So in the front office’s mind, they have to make the decision of whether it is worth having another season where you can easily expect to have one of the top wide receiving duos in the NFL to go with one of the best quarterbacks with the future compensation (if any) in doubt, or do they get a somewhat decent return and try to fill Higgins role with either a lesser player or inexperienced rookie.
You should expect them to make moves like this to keep Higgins and try to get that elusive Super Bowl for Cincinnati rather than worry about picks down the line. There is also a slight chance that a deal could get done with Higgins to extend him beyond the 2024 season, but that would involve an even bolder prediction.