Ben BabyESPN staff writer3 minutes to read
INDIANAPOLIS — The Cincinnati Bengals have flatly let the rest of the NFL know that wide receiver Tee Higgins isn’t on the trading block.
During his annual session at the NFL Scouting Association, team CEO Duke Tobin dismissed any idea that the team might be interested in shopping this outstanding receiver out of the season. The team’s longtime manager of players said no offers were made, and if they did, trading Higgins wasn’t an idea.
“If they want a receiver, find yours,” Tobin said Tuesday. “In my opinion, Tee Higgins is a good piece for the Cincinnati Bengals. The business stuff is a bit silly right now.”
Higgins, a third-year player, is about to enter the final year of his rookie contract. He’s one of several players who will have contract extensions this year or next, including quarterback Joe Burrow and fellow receiver Ja’Marr Chase.
Since entering the league in 2020, the former Clemson star has been one of the most productive receivers in the league. According to ESPN Stats & Information Research, Higgins is one of only 15 players with 3,000 receiving yards. In 2022, the second-round selection was his second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season.
This production extended to the team’s last two runs as well. In Cincinnati’s Super Bowl LVI loss to the Los Angeles Rams, Higgins had four catches for 100 yards and two receiving. In Cincinnati’s AFC Championship loss to the Kansas City Chiefs that ended the Bengals’ final season, Higgins had a team-high 83 receiving yards and a touchdown in the 23-20 loss at Arrowhead Stadium.
Bengals coach Zack Taylor said he scoffed at any talk of the team’s handling of Higgins this season.
“That’s why when you see rumors going around there, it’s bullshit,” Taylor said inside the Indiana Convention Center. “At the end of the day, I can connect to the plays and enjoy them [playmakers] outside. You really don’t want to give that up.”
Higgins represents a $4 million cap for the Bengals in 2023 as they seek to scout the futures of several top players, including Burrow.
Tobin said the team has a rough estimate of how much Burrow’s potential contract extension will cost as the team prepares to enter free agency, which begins the week of March 12.
However, the team does not have an exact deadline as to when the contract will be completed as the franchise quarterback enters his fourth year in the NFL.
“I’ve been very vocal about what Joe means to us, and my job is to facilitate his success as best I can by putting pieces around him, and his contract will be done when it’s done,” Tobin said. “But it’s a good problem. It’s a vital part of what we’re doing.”
Tobin and Taylor explain that Higgins has been part of the team’s success lately. The Bengals have won the AFC North title in consecutive seasons and reached at least the AFC Championship Game both years, splitting two games against Kansas City. Higgins is exactly who Cincinnati is hoping for when it gets a player in the draft, said Tobin, who is the team’s de facto general manager.
“I imagine him to be a part of what we’re doing in the future for a long time,” Tobin said. “That’s the hope. We want our guys – especially our guys who come in and prove they can help us win in a big way.”
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