Source – Bengals place franchise tag on WR Tee Higgins

Source – Bengals place franchise tag on WR Tee Higgins

  • Source – Bengals place franchise tag on WR Tee Higgins.png&h=80&w=80&scale=crop

    Ben Baby, ESPN Staff Writer February 26, 2024, 9:23 a.m. ET


      Ben Baby covers the Cincinnati Bengals for ESPN. He joined the company in July 2019. Before ESPN, he worked for various newspapers in Texas, most recently at The Dallas Morning News, where he covered college sports. He covers the Bengals daily for while also appearing on SportsCenter, ESPN's NFL shows and ESPN Radio programs. He is a native of Grapevine, Texas and holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of North Texas. He is an adjunct professor of journalism at Southern Methodist University and a member of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA).

CINCINNATI – The Bengals have made their first big decision of the offseason, naming wide receiver Tee Higgins as a franchise player, a source confirmed to ESPN.

The move puts the Bengals in a position to keep Higgins for at least one more season. If the two teams do not reach a long-term agreement before July 15, Higgins will be limited to a one-year contract with the club worth $21.816 million, which is the league-wide franchise tag amount for wide receivers in 2024.

The deadline for teams to use the franchise or transition tag is March 5.

Higgins, a second-round draft pick in 2020, was expected to enter free agency after his rookie contract with Cincinnati expired. In his first four seasons with the team, he caught 257 passes for 3,684 yards and 24 touchdowns. In seven postseason games, he had 31 receptions for 457 yards and three touchdowns.

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This is the second offseason in a row that Higgins' long-term future with the club has been a topic of conversation. At last year's NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Bengals manager Duke Tobin strongly rejected a potential trade for Higgins.

However, the two teams were unable to agree on a long-term extension before Higgins began the final season of his current contract. Higgins had an injury-plagued 2023 season that limited him to 12 games. He totaled 42 receptions, 656 receiving yards and five touchdowns. Higgins has publicly and privately expressed his desire to remain in Cincinnati for several years. But that's just a high-priced part of Cincinnati's future offense.

In 2023, quarterback Joe Burrow signed a five-year contract extension worth $275 million, setting the NFL record for highest annual average salary. According to the Roster Management System, Burrow's salary cap hit will be $46.3 million in 2025.

Wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase is also likely to be one of the highest paid players at his position. Chase has made the Pro Bowl in each of his first three NFL seasons, set multiple franchise records and is aiming to earn a salary at the top of the market.

The news of Higgins being given the franchise title was first reported by NFL Network.