Bengals WR Tee Higgins Signing Franchise Tag a Matter of When, Not If

All signs point to Tee Higgins eventually signing the franchise tag and playing for the Bengals, but the stalemate could stretch well into August.

CINCINNATICincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins still has not signed his franchise tag, and he is not expected to before OTAs begin next week.

Higgins has made it clear he is not happy about receiving the franchise tag, but he also has stated he intends to sign it.

When Will Bengals WR Tee Higgins Sign Franchise Tag?

Speaking at a youth football camp last month, Higgins said, “I do anticipate it. I’ve grown a love for Cincy that I didn’t think I would. Looking forward to it.”

So the question remains one of when, not if, we will see Higgins suit up for the Bengals.

It won’t be ahead of the start of OTAs next week, nor any time soon thereafter.

You can expect the answer to be closer to 100 days from now.

The whole saga has a thick fell of déjà vu from what happened with safety Jessie Bates III two years ago.

Both Higgins and Bates are represented by agent David Mulugheta. Call it a playbook or a template or whatever you want, but there is an obvious path Higgins is about to follow.

If he doesn’t sign the franchise tag, he can’t be fined for skipping mandatory minicamp June 11-13, nor can he be fined for missing any of training camp.

Bates waited until Aug. 23 to sign his franchise tag worth $13 million two years ago. That was two days after the Bengals played their second preseason game, and 11 days after he watched their preseason opener from a suite at Paycor Stadium.

Two days after this year’s second preseason game would be Monday, Aug. 19. That’s 90 days from today.

Could Higgins wait even longer than Bates did? Of course. His position is far less demanding in terms of time on task getting down the nuances of the scheme.

If Higgins waited until the first full practice leading into the Bengals’ Week 1 game against the New England Patriots, which would be Wednesday, Sept. 4, you still could expect him to start and play a substantial number of snaps in the opener.

Whenever Higgins decides to sign the franchise tag, his 2024 salary of $21.8 million will be fully guaranteed.

The Bengals and Higgins have until July 15 to agree to an extension, but the sides not only are nowhere close to agreeing on one, but there also doesn’t seem to be much effort going into the process from the team side of the negotiations.

This is a big reason for Higgins’ discontent, especially in light of the fact that each of the other seven players who were franchise-tagged already have signed extensions — five with their original team and two in a trade-and-tag situation.

KEEP READING: Breaking Down the Cincinnati Bengals’ Schedule

There essentially are four options on the table for how this plays out, and three of them are as unlikely as team owner Mike Brown receiving a Christmas card from Mulugheta.

  1. The Bengals sign Higgins to a long-term extension.
  2. The Bengals trade Higgins.
  3. Higgins never signs the tag and sits out the season.
  4. Higgins signs the tag, puts $21.8 million in the bank, and joins Ja’Marr Chase, Joe Burrow, and the rest of the Bengals in their pursuit of a Super Bowl.

Listen to the PFN Bengals Podcast

Listen to the PFN Bengals Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Bengals Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review! Rather watch instead? Check out the PFN Bengals Podcast on our NFL YouTube channel.

Related Articles