Bengals have informed WR Tee Higgins they are franchising him

The Bengals are keeping one of Joe Burrow’s favorite targets in Cincinnati for the 2024 season.

Cincy plans to use the franchise tag on star wide receiver Tee Higgins, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported on Friday, per sources. Higgins’ franchise tag number is expected to be around $21.8 million, fully guaranteed, Rapoport added.

Once the tag is placed, The Bengals and Higgins will have until mid-July to get a long-term deal done, otherwise Higgins can only play the 2024 season on a one-year contract — either via the franchise tender or by negotiating new terms (as Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs did last year).

Higgins battled through a fractured rib and hamstring and ankle injuries this past season to play 11 games. With other core players also dealing with injuries, Higgins proved once again to be a reliable option for whoever was under center for the Bengals. He generated 42 receptions for 656 receiving yards and five touchdowns, with a team-leading 15.6 yards per catch.

Higgins has developed into a dependable target for Burrow, his 2020 draftmate, through their first four seasons. With three-time Pro Bowler Ja’Marr Chase lined up on the other side, the wideout duo has showcased how dangerous Cincy’s offense can be when they are both on the field catching passes from a healthy Burrow.

Like many Bengals stars, though, Burrow’s availability was an issue in 2023, as Cincinnati finished fourth in the AFC North with a 9-8 record after two straight playoff berths that included a Super Bowl appearance. Burrow was ruled out for the year due to a torn ligament in his right wrist in November. Jake Browning finished the rest of the season, going 4-3 as a starter.

Down his Pro Bowl quarterback, Higgins still enjoyed spurts where he showcased the ability that has Cincy intent on keeping him around. With Browning as starter, the WR recorded a season-high 140 receiving yards against the Steelers in Week 16.

At the end of January, Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin said he wanted Higgins back. With the impeding tag, Cincy is one step closer to keeping its young, talented core intact for the upcoming season.

Now, Higgins and Tobin will need to get to work on reaching a mutually agreeable number for the long-term.

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