Three key free agents Bengals must try to keep this offseason

Cincinnati's front office needs to keep these guys in black and orange.

Nov 5, 2023; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tanner Hudson (87) reacts after a
Nov 5, 2023; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tanner Hudson (87) reacts after a / Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
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Tee Higgins, Wide Receiver

This one is cheating a little bit, because the Bengals have already designated Higgins as a franchise player for next season, and thus they don't have to worry about losing him over the offseason -- unless it's by their own doing.

There has been rumblings that Cincinnati could look to trade Higgins, and the team placing the tag on him hasn't done too much to quiet such speculation. Even Duke Tobin didn't completely shut down the notion when given the opportunity.

"We feel like we are a better team with him," Tobin said of Higgins. "The reason we franchised him is because we would like to have him. He’s not under contract, and it’s hard for me to predict all the different scenarios that could happen. But we feel strongly about Tee Higgins and his fit with us.”

While the Bengals could probably get some good value in return for Higgins in a trade, holding onto him seems like the better option, as the offensive is more explosive when he's out there.

Sure, he had a down year last season, but he balled out the previous two seasons, and in those seasons the Bengals went to the Super Bowl and the AFC Championship, respectively. During those season, their dangerous offensive attack was a big factor in the team's overall success.

Plus, Joe Burrow has already made it clear that he wants Higgins to remain in Cincinnati, and you don't want to anger the franchise quarterback.

"It's no secret, our relationship,"Burrow said of Higgins recently. "I expect Tee to be back. I think that's the sentiment in the locker room. We all want Tee back. . . . We know what kind of player he is. We know what kind of person he is. He's what being a Bengal is all about."