Tee Higgins will likely play the 2023 season on the final year of his contract. He and the Cincinnati Bengals are reportedly very far apart in contract extension negotiations, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Kelsey Conway, and aren’t expected to agree on a new deal before Week 1.
This comes a day after the Bengals locked down quarterback Joe Burrow on a five-year, $275 million contract with $219 million in guaranteed money. Burrow had spoken about signing a contract that would allow Cincinnati to keep both Higgins and fellow wideout Ja’Marr Chase (who’ll be eligible for an extension after the 2023 season), but Higgins’ future remains in limbo.
The Bengals reportedly offered the 24-year-old Higgins an extension earlier this offseason, but that deal was rejected by the receiver’s camp, per Conway. He will be eligible for the franchise tag worth at least $19.74 million after the 2023 season, per Over The Cap.
Trade speculation with Higgins ran amuck this offseason with his impending free agency still a season away. But the receiver said he planned to play for the Bengals “for a while,” and Cincinnati director of player personnel Duke Tobin called Higgins “a good piece” for a team and denied they were shopping him.
On Friday, though, Higgins said he had “no clue” where his contract negotiations stood two days before the Bengals’ first game of the season against the Cleveland Browns. He added that he did not plan to hold out despite his lack of a long-term deal.
“My job is to come in every day and do what I do best — work and catch the ball from No. 9,” Higgins said.
Higgins finished with 74 receptions and more than 1,000 receiving yards for the second consecutive season. He has caught 19 touchdowns over the past three years, with 215 career receptions for 3,028 career receiving yards since the Bengals drafted him with the first pick of the second round in 2020.
Between Burrow and the impending Chase extension, Higgins appears to be the odd man out. Fellow wideout Tyler Boyd said Friday that Higgins “got the short end of the stick” between the team’s three star players, but he is “worth a lot.”
The hope for a Higgins extension anytime soon doesn’t sound promising. According to Conway, Higgins reportedly isn’t in the Bengals’ long-term plans and that Cincinnati could tag-and-trade Higgins next offseason to a team willing to pay more than the franchise tag.
Buccaneers unwilling to extend Mike Evans
Another veteran wideout seeking a new contract could be left in a lurch, too.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers reportedly have no plans to offer receiver Mike Evans a contract extension before Week 1, according to The Athletic’s Dianna Russini. Evans and his agents set a Sept. 9, 2023, deadline for any new deal to be hashed out, one the Buccaneers appear willing to let pass in lieu of locking down the nine-year pass-catcher.
Evans has finished with at least 1,000 receiving yards in every season he has played in the NFL and has 683 career receptions and 81 career touchdowns.