One key date in July that Cincinnati Bengals fans need to know

Make sure to circle this date on the calendar.
Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODAY Sports

July is a quiet month when it comes to the NFL calendar. Free agency has slowed to a trickle, the draft and OTAs are both in the books, and the start of training camp is still a few weeks away. But just because July isn't the league's busiest month doesn't mean that there aren't still important dates to keep in mind.

When it comes to the Cincinnati Bengals, there's one specific date in July that fans should have marked on the calendar. That date is July 15, which is the final day for designated franchise players (like star wide receiver Tee Higgins) to agree to a long-term extension. If no agreement is reached, Higgins will be headed for free agency next offseason.

Will a deal get done?

The Bengals have been hesitant to give Higgins a long-term deal, and that seems unlikely to change in the next couple of weeks. An impending mega-extension for fellow star wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase is likely a big part of the reason why the team isn't eager to lock up Higgins. Doing so would mean that a whole lot of cap space will be allocated to two receivers, potentially at the expense of other positions.

It's tough to say, but at this point it almost feels like the Bengals think Higgins is replaceable. Hell, perhaps they even drafted his eventual replacement in Jermaine Burton in the third round of the 2024 NFL Draft. When next offseason rolls around, there will probably be teams out there willing to pay more for Higgins' services than the Bengals are, and that could equal the end of the partnership between the two sides.

The best thing that Higgins can do for himself is have a monster 2024 season. Doing so will put him in the best possible position at the negotiating table.