Bengals Rumors: Cincinnati plans to use franchise tag on Tee Higgins

Is this the right call?
Cincinnati Bengals, Tee Higgins
Cincinnati Bengals, Tee Higgins / Jeff Dean/GettyImages

This offseason, the Cincinnati Bengals face two tall orders, literally speaking and also financially.

Impending free agent wide receiver Tee Higgins could end up leaving town. Fellow wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase is in line for an extension. What should the Bengals do?

There are a few choices.

The Athletic's Paul Dehner Jr. recently outlined the Bengals' options when it comes to Higgins in the coming weeks:

1. Franchise tag at one year and $20.7 million

2. Franchise tag and then trade to a team willing to pay him long-term and give up compensation

3. Higgins signs a long-term extension before the franchise tag deadline

4. No tag, no extension, Higgins walks in free agency, Bengals potentially add 2025 compensatory pick

In the end, though, Dehner believes the expectation around the organization is that Cincinnati will, indeed, place the franchise tag on Higgins.

The Bengals plan to use the franchise tag on Tee Higgins, but is it the right move?

"The writing is on the wall and all expectations are the Bengals will use a franchise tag on Higgins," Dehner writes.

So, let's move forward with the assumption that the Bengals will use the tag, thus paying Higgins just shy of $21 million in 2024. Dehner gives us an idea that Cincy might just be doing this, and early on, in order to get fair compensation in a trade for Higgins.

"One league source suggested the Bengals could place the tag early in the window as a statement acknowledging no long-term deal will be reached and opening the door for the rest of the league to consider or submit tag-and-trade offers," Dehner wrote.

Quite frankly, that would be the smart move. Tagging Higgins under the idea that he stays in Cincinnati isn't a wise move. While he's a great player and contributes a lot to the offense when healthy, this team doesn't need to be paying a pair of receivers top-5 money next season.

The Bengals have just under $60 million in cap space according to Over the Cap, but once they pay both receivers, that doesn't leave a lot left over for filling other holes (hello, trenches) and signing 2024 draft picks.

If Cincinnati wants to push the majority of their chips in on wide receivers and are praying that, A) Joe Burrow gets healthy enough to still run for his life, and B) This defensive line will magically take a leap forward, then by all means, go ahead and pay both of these receivers.

However, tagging Higgins early and moving him in a trade makes more sense, all things considered.