The Cincinnati Bengals announced a record-setting contract extension with star quarterback Joe Burrow on Thursday night. Burrow is now the highest-paid player in NFL history, surpassing the contract that Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert signed a few years ago.
With Burrow now locked into a long-term deal, the Bengals have ensured they will have their franchise quarterback under contract for at least the next half-decade. However, the future isn’t nearly as certain for one of his star wide receivers.
Tee Higgins is entering the final year of his contract after being a second-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the same year the Bengals selected Burrow first overall. Higgins has showcased the talent to be a No. 1 receiver in this league, but as long as Ja’Marr Chase occupies that spot in Cincinnati, Higgins will be a No. 2.
With Chase becoming extension-eligible next offseason, many people have wondered if the Bengals will be able to keep their entire supporting cast around. Trade rumors swirled, but Cincinnati’s director of player personnel Duke Tobin made the team’s stance very clear on a Higgins trade.
“If they want a receiver, go find your own,” Tobin said on Feb. 28. “In my opinion, Tee Higgins is a good piece for the Cincinnati Bengals. The trade stuff is a little ridiculous right now.”
While the team may not have an interest in trading Higgins, they certainly aren’t showing any urgency to lock him into a long-term deal of his own. According to Kelsey Conway of the Enquirer and USA Today, Higgins isn’t in the long-term plans of the franchise.
Higgins didn’t provide much of an update on his contract situation either. When asked if negotiations would pick up before the Bengals play the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, he said he didn’t know.
“I have no clue,” Higgins said. “My job is to come in every day and do what I do best – work and catch the ball from No. 9 (quarterback Joe Burrow).”
This will be something to keep an eye on throughout the season. The Bengals are looking to contend for a Super Bowl this season, but they should be keeping all of their options open. If there aren’t any plans to retain Higgins long-term, they should at least consider making a trade centered around him.
Taking a look around the league at what other wide receivers got in return trade packages, the Bengals would be able to get solid value in return for Higgins. One future first-round pick would be included at the very least and likely a Day 2 pick in addition.