NFL insider explains why Tee Higgins requested a trade from Bengals

Some insight into Higgins' huge decision.

Dec 23, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (5) at
Dec 23, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (5) at / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

We now have some clarity regarding Tee Higgins' request to be traded away from the Cincinnati Bengals.

When the Bengals placed the franchise tag on Higgins for the 2024 season, the desire to come to a long-term agreement with the receiver was cited as one of the motivating factors. However, such talks never materialized, according to NFL insider Ian Rapoport. Higgins was discouraged with the lack of movement, and boom, a trade request was born.

At the NFL Combine in Indianapolis las month, Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin said that the team used the tag on Higgins with the intent of him playing for the team next season, and potentially beyond, though he didn't completely close the door on the idea of a potential trade.

“We tagged him with the intent of him playing for us,” Tobin said. “He’s a good player. We want good players. He fits us perfectly. So we tagged him for that reason. The hypotheticals of what could happen, you know, it’s hard for me to comment on.”

Now, Tobin will be forced to embrace those hypotheticals that he mentioned, as he will need to figure out the best course of action for the team moving forward. A trade isn't guaranteed, but one certainly seems likely, as the Bengals probably won't want to deal with a malcontent receiver.

Other potential factors behind the trade request

The lack of movement on a long-term extension seems to be the main factor behind the trade request, but it probably wasn't the only one. This is just speculation, but it seems like Higgins' role moving forward could have also contributed.

With Ja'Marr Chase firmly entrenched as the top receiver in Cincinnati, and poised for a massive payday, Higgins was always going to be relegated to the second spot -- in terms of both playbooks and paychecks. As a young, productive receiver, Higgins might want the opportunity to step out of the shadow and spread his wings elsewhere.

There could be a team, or teams, out there willing to give Higgins more money and potentially even a larger role than he would have in Cincinnati. The grass isn't always greener, but it's tough to blame a guy for wanting to explore his options, especially given the lack of a long-term commitment from his current franchise.