05 Apr

Bengals don’t plan to move WR despite request; could that change during NFL Draft?

Will Tee Higgins join Stefon Diggs, Keenan Allen and Diontae Johnson as notable receivers who have been traded this offseason? At this point, that doesn’t seem to be in the cards, as the Bengals remain resolute in keeping him on their roster for the 2024 season, according to The Athletic.

Higgins’ trade request was motivated by his desire to receive a new contract. He wants a new deal rather than play the upcoming season under the franchise tag. The Bengals’ plan is to have Higgins play under the tag in 2024, but things beyond this season are up in the air, given the fact that they also have to address Ja’Marr Chase’s expiring rookie contract.

A 2020 second-round pick, Higgins has proven to be a No. 1 receiver when healthy. He played an integral role in the Bengals’ 2021 AFC championship run and caught a pair of touchdowns in Cincinnati’s Super Bowl loss to the Rams. Higgins went over 1,000 yards for a second straight year in 2022 while helping the Bengals repeat as AFC North champs.

While injuries limited his availability last season, Higgins still had his moments. He had 110 yards in Cincinnati’s Week 9 win over Buffalo and had two big touchdown catches in the Bengals’ Week 15 win over the Vikings that kept Cincinnati’s playoff hopes alive.

While the plan is to keep Higgins for 2024, that doesn’t mean that the Bengals won’t pivot if they are presented with an offer they can’t refuse. The Athletic alluded to the fact that the Cardinals (with the 27th and 35th picks) and Patriots (34th pick) have receiver needs and may possibly be open to trading for Higgins. In this scenario, the Bengals would lose Higgins but would have the chance to replace him with one of the draft’s top prospects. Specifically, Georgia’s Ladd McConkey and Texas’ Xavier Worthy are being projected as late-first-round/early-second-round picks.

Rest assured that the Bengals will receive inquiries about Higgins in the days leading up to and during the draft, if they haven’t already. It’ll likely come down to what teams are offering and whether or not the Bengals feel those offers will give them a better chance of capitalizing on their championship window with franchise quarterback Joe Burrow, who is coming off season-ending wrist surgery.

Barring the unexpected, though, the expectation is that Higgins will remain in Cincinnati in 2024. This would keep the NFL’s best receiving duo in tact for another year while also keeping the window ajar for a possible extension for Higgins in 2025.

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