Sooner or later, the Cincinnati Bengals are going to have to make a tough decision on wide receiver Tee Higgins, and one NFL assistant coach made the case for ripping the bandage off now.
The assistant told The Athletic’s Jeff Howe the Bengals should move on from the 2020 second-round pick and even consider dealing him now:
“Honestly, you may want to try to trade him this year while there’s value and then go draft a young receiver. He’s really good in that system. He’s a good receiver, but I don’t think he’s so dynamic that you can’t replace his value or production. [Ja’Marr] Chase is going to command so much more attention, that whoever is playing opposite of him is going to get favorable matchups.”
An NFL team executive told Howe Cincinnati should prioritize extensions for Chase and Joe Burrow and be content to lose Higgins either through free agency or a trade.
The 24-year-old is entering the final year of his rookie deal. Spotrac projects his next contract to be worth four years and $80.6 million, which would make him the 11th-highest-paid wideout.
If Higgins were the Bengals’ No. 1 option, then an extension might be a no-brainer. He’s coming off his second straight 1,000-yard receiving season, and he has been a consistent performer from the moment he entered the league.
But sacrifices are required in a salary-capped league, and it will be tough to retain Higgins at what he’s worth while paying Burrow and Chase at market-level rates as well.
Should he sign a multiyear pact, Burrow will in all likelihood get the biggest contract in franchise history, one that is bound to average $40 million-plus annually based on the current spending levels for quarterbacks.
Chase, meanwhile, is probably looking at upwards of $25 million or more, a number that is bound to grow if he adds another Pro Bowl nod or two before becoming a free agent in 2026.
Drafting a receiver worked out nicely for the Bengals in 2020 and 2021, so the scouting department seems to have a good read on the position. If you’re the front office, you should bet on yourselves to identify the right replacement for Higgins.
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