Tee Higgins will likely play the 2023 season in the final year of his contract. According to Kelsey Conway of the Cincinnati Enquirer, he and the Cincinnati Bengals are reportedly very far apart in their contract extension negotiations, and won’t get the chance to agree on a new deal before Week 1.
This comes a day after the Bengals signed quarterback Joe Burrow to a five-year, $275 million contract with an NFL-high $219 million in guaranteed money. Burrow had discussed signing a contract that would allow Cincinnati to retain both Higgins and fellow prospect Ja’Marr Chase (who is eligible for an extension after the 2023 season), but Higgins’ future remains in serious 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, according to Conway. He will be eligible for the franchise tag after the 2023 season for a minimum of $19.74 million per Over The Cap.
Trade speculation involving Higgins loomed this offseason as his impending free agency was 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, however, Higgins said he had “no idea” where his contract negotiations stood a day before the Bengals’ first game of the season against the Cleveland Browns. He added that he had no intention of sticking it out despite not having a long-term contract.
“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 completed 74 receptions for over 1,000 receiving yards for the second consecutive season. He has also 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 upcoming Chase expansion, Higgins seems like the odd one out. Colleague Tyler Boyd said Friday that Higgins “got the short straw” among the team’s three star players and that he is “worth a lot.”
Hopes for an extension for Higgins anytime soon don’t sound promising if Conway’s reporting is to be believed. She added that Higgins is also reportedly not 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 who don’t want to renew Mike Evans
Another veteran seeking a new contract could also be left in the lurch.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers reportedly have no plans to offer receiver Mike Evans a contract extension before Week 1, according to Dianna Russini of athletics. Evans and his agents set a deadline of September 9, 2023 to finalize a new deal, a deadline that the Buccaneers appear willing to pass rather than lock up the nine-year pass-catcher.
Evans has racked up at least 1,000 receiving yards every season he has played in the NFL and has 683 career receptions and 81 career touchdowns.