Could Tee Higgins still come to a long-term agreement with the Bengals?

Cincinnati Bengals v Jacksonville Jaguars
Cincinnati Bengals v Jacksonville Jaguars / Perry Knotts/GettyImages

Tee Higgins has officially requested a trade away from the Cincinnati Bengals. So, what happens next?

First, it's important to point out that the Bengals don't have to trade Higgins just because he requested a move. They designated him as a franchise player for the 2024 season, so he's still under team control for another year. They could simply opt to ignore the request and force him to suit up next season.

But, could there be a world where Higgins gets a new deal with the Bengals and stays in Cincinnati?

Well, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, Higgins' trade request didn't stem from a desire to leave Cincinnati, but rather a desire to ignite talks regarding a long-term deal. Perhaps all hope isn't lost for Bengals fans who aren't ready to see Higgins in a different uniform.

From Florio:

"The trade request comes not from a desire to leave Cincinnati but from a desire to spark talks on a long-term deal. If other teams make their interest in Higgins known by calling the Bengals, maybe it will work.

"Regardless, making the trade request has no real downside. Higgins had his path to a significant payday blocked by the franchise tag. He has every right to use all means at his disposal to try to turn that tag into a long-term deal."

Even ESPN's Adam Schefter made a point to emphasize the fact that Higgins didn't necessarily want to leave Cincinnati in his original reporting of the trade request.

Just because there haven't been any talks on an extension yet doesn't mean there won't be. The Bengals have ample salary cap space, and could afford to lock Higgins up -- if that's where they wanted to allocate the money.

So, to answer the question posed in the headline -- Technically, yes, Higgins could still come to a long-term agreement with the Bengals, and he still has time to do so. The two sides have until July 15 to agree on an extension. Will an agreement be reached by then is a different question, and the answer to that one is trending towards unlikely.

When it comes down to the negotiating table, Higgins, 25, is going to want to be compensated like a top young receiver in the league, and understandably so, and it seems unlikely that the Bengals are going to want to meet his asking price given the fact that No. 1 wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase is also in line for a major payday.

At that point, getting some solid value in return for Higgins would make sense for Cincinnati, and could be a win-win for both side, as you'd assume that whatever team was willing to trade for Higgins would also be willing to give him the numbers on an extension that he's looking for. Higgins could clearly serve as the top receiver on several teams in the league.

The offseason just started, and it's already been an eventful one in Cincinnati. That's unlikely to change any time soon.