Tee Higgins reportedly requests trade from Bengals following franchise tag

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Tee Higgins wants out of Cincinnati. 

The standout wide receiver has requested a trade from the Cincinnati Bengals, ESPN reported Monday. Higgins was set to hit free agency this offseason, but the team placed the franchise tag on him in late February.

Although the franchise tag is often used to give teams more time to negotiate an extension with a prospective free agent, the Bengals haven’t had any talks on a long-term deal with Higgins since March 2023, leaving the receiver disappointed, according to ESPN. Higgins reportedly still has affection for the city and had hoped to remain with the team long-term. 

If he wasn’t franchise-tagged, Higgins would’ve arguably been the top free-agent wide receiver this offseason. FOX Sports ranked him as the ninth-best free agent this offseason and the top wide receiver. 

The Bengals’ decision to franchise-tag Higgins falls in the middle of having to make long-term commitments to two other pillars of their offense. They gave Joe Burrow a record extension last September, agreeing to a five-year, $275 million deal with $219 million guaranteed to keep the quarterback. Star wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase is also eligible to receive an extension this offseason, which might have made it difficult for the Bengals to make a long-term commitment to Higgins.

Higgins’ franchise tag is worth $21.816 fully guaranteed. Regardless of whether he stays in Cincinnati or finds a new team, he has until July to agree to a long-term extension. If not, Higgins would either have to sign the one-year tender or play on a restructured one-year deal in 2024. 

Higgins has been one of the game’s most consistent receivers since the Bengals selected him in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He recorded at least 65 receptions, 900 receiving yards and six receiving touchdowns in each of his first three seasons. His stats took a dip in 2023, though, as he missed five games, recording 42 receptions for 656 yards and five touchdowns, while Burrow also missed much of the season.

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