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“Unlikely” That Chiefs, Panthers Trade Target Signs Extension

Tee Higgins signed his franchise tag, but the Cincinnati Bengals could still entertain a trade as long-term contract talks stall.
Tee Higgins Trade

Despite making zero progress on a long-term extension, the Cincinnati Bengals refuse to trade Tee Higgins during the offseason. The wide recevier was one of nine players to receive the franchise tag prior to the start of the 2024 league year, but the star receiver is the only one set to play on the tag. Every other player agreed to a long-term deal in some form, while Higgins only signed his tag on June 15th.

Seeing as Higgins was technically not under contract, the wide receiver will not receive a fine for missing offseason activities and had no reason to sign the deal before the start of the league year. Despite this, the wideout still signed the deal, which could mean the two sides were close to figuring out a long-term agreement. However, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport says that this is not the case – the Bengals are not likely to extend Tee Higgins and could trade him if the 2024 season goes off the rails.

Chiefs, Panthers Could Target Tee Higgins In Trade Talks

It’s a foregone conclusion that the Cincinnati Bengals will not have Tee Higgins in 2025. With the wide receiver market exploding, the Bengals won’t have the money to extend him. Not only do they have to pay for Joe Burrow’s massive cap hit, but they must set some money aside for superstar wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase. Chances are, this will be the last time Cincinnati has all three homegrown stars on the roster.

While some teams would trade a player like Tee Higgins for a high return, the Bengals believe this is their last “best chance” to win a Super Bowl with their current core. The Bengals have one of the best rosters in the game and, as long as Joe Burrow is healthy, this team should be on the short list of NFL contenders. However, if Burrow suffers another injury or the team underperforms, the Bengals might deal Higgins to a receiver-needy team like the Chiefs or Panthers.

Possible Destinations

If the Bengals are competing, they will never trade Tee Higgins to an elite rival like the Chiefs. However, seeing as he will hit free agency at the end of the season, Cincinnati should listen to any offer if 2024 ends up not being their year. Kansas City has a high-risk, high-reward receiver room filled with multiple low-floor, high-ceiling players in Marquise Brown, Rashee Rice, and first-round rookie Xavier Worthy. If two of these players work out, then the Chiefs won’t need Higgins. However, if something goes wrong, this team could look for a proven perimeter threat to help win their third Super Bowl in as many seasons.

The Panthers, meanwhile, won’t compete in 2024 but could trade for Tee Higgins to help secure weapons for Bryce Young. Diontae Johnson is entering a contract year, Adam Thielen isn’t getting any younger, and rookie Xavier Legette is a complete unknown. Bryce Young couldn’t make it work with the league’s worst supporting cast, but perhaps he can thrive with a legitimate downfield threat like Higgins overpowering opposing defensive backs.

Main Photo: Kareem Elgazzar – USA Today Sports


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