Zac Taylor makes his true feelings about Tee Higgins crystal clear

Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

Last week, it seemed like Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor might have thrown some shade at wide receiver Tee Higgins while complimenting Ja'Marr Chase, but Taylor made his true feelings about Higgins crystal clear after the receiver signed his franchise tender for the 2024 season.

Taylor happy to have Higgins back in the fold

"I'm excited to move forward with Tee," Taylor said. "He's done a great job handling his situation, and we are happy to get him back in the fold so we can start working toward a great 2024 season. The locker room will be excited to have him back around."

Taylor has remained publicly supportive of Higgins since his trade request in March, maintaining that the Bengals are at their best with Higgins out on the field.

“We’re excited for Tee to have a great year for us,” Taylor said earlier this year. “We think he’s our best chance to help us win a Super Bowl. . . . I’ve enjoyed working with Tee the last four years and expect this year to be no different.”

There was some speculation about when Higgins would sign his tender given his trade request, but he put an end to the drama -- for the time being -- by putting pen to paper. Higgins' long-term future in Cincinnati remains a question mark, but at least he'll be out on the field for the team in 2024.

With Higgins in the fold along with Chase, a healthy Joe Burrow, new tight end Mike Gesicki and rookie receiver Jermaine Burton, the Bengals should have one of the most dangerous passing attacks in the entire NFL in '24.

The Bengals still have until July 15 to come to a long-term agreement with Higgins, but it seems very unlikely that will happen at this point. The most likely scenario is that Higgins plays out the 2024 season with the Bengals and then hits free agency next year.