June 19, 2024

NFL Leadership Believes that Bengals Could Get Top Draft Pick for Elite Receiver in 2024 Trade Proposal

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor gives final press conference of  training camp

The NFL has officially put a price tag on one of the Bengals’ biggest assets.
It is interesting how quickly things have changed for the Cincinnati Bengals: a few weeks ago, there was substantial panic that the team would once again be losing a superstar for nothing but compensatory picks.  Last season, All-Pro free safety Jessie Bates III left the Queen City for the Atlanta Falcons and due to additional free agency activity, Cincinnati didn’t even acquire a third rounder from the loss.  Above all else, Cincinnati has made it  priority to avoid that type of roster waste again during the upcoming offseason.

NFL Executives Have High Opinion of Bengals Star Wide Receiver

The big news over the past few days has been Cincinnati’s franchise tag being placed on elite wide receiver Tee Higgins.  Higgins was ranked as one of the best players to hit free agency this offseason and once he left, there was no guarantee the team would be able to bring him back in 2024.  After the franchise tag, there is no longer that possibility as Higgins is locked in to a one-year, $21.8 million fully guaranteed contract.

While Higgins has been an exceptional player, there is still a strong possibility that the team only placed the tag on their star player so that they could maximize his value with a trade.  The franchise has plenty of salary cap space this season with around $44 million still available but with the impending contract extension to Ja’Marr Chase and the hit from quarterback Joe Burrow’s record setting contract, that number will vanish quickly in upcoming seasons.

On top of that new, there is a lot of debate as to what sort of return Cincinnati could get on Higgins.  He is clearly one of the most talented receivers in the NFL with an exceptional 6’4″ frame but he also had a down season after he struggled through injuries for most of the season.  According to a recent report by The 33rd Team’s Ari Meirov, the consensus among NFL ownerships groups is that HIggins would pull in a late first round pick to a early second round pick.

That brings to question as to which teams Cincinnati would be willing to make the trade with if they were actively searching for the right fit.  For example, Kansas City has been desperate for wide receiver help but the odds of the organization trading a talented target to their biggest intraconference rival is essentially nothing.  The best fit would be a competitive NFC team that wants to provide aid for either a new quarterback or a team attempting to make a Super Bowl push.

In the late first round, the best teams for Cincinnati to target would be the Detroit Lions (29th Overall Pick) or the Green Bay Packers (25th Overall Pick).  Both teams appear to be making major strides in the NFC with wide receiver being one of their weaker links.  If either roster were able to trade a late first rounder for a talented pass catcher, it would be considered a huge victory amongst their fanbases.

Bengals Tee Higgins

On Cincinnati’s end, they should try their absolute best to get one of those picks because the financial benefits of getting a first rounder rather than a second rounder is huge.  The obvious evidence of this is Higgins; Higgins was selected 33rd overall (first pick of the second round) and therefore was not eligible for the fifth year option which locks a player in for a below-average, team-friendly salary.  With the upcoming salary cap issues, hitting big on a defensive tackle in the late first round and being able to lock him in for five years would be critical for a team with impending free agency hits on the defensive front.

Cincinnati Bengals, Joe Burrow

Even though he doesn’t have the raw chemistry with Burrow that Chase has over their extensive experience together, Higgins has some of the best physical gifts of any receiver in the entire NFL.  At 6’4″, you’d actually think he was taller given his lanky build, long arms and above-average vertical.  At multiple point over the past few seasons, Cincinnati has been able to make huge plays for Cincinnati by going up for a jump ball over a smaller defender.  Although Higgins is a tremendous player, trading the young man for prospects is likely the best option for the long term success of the franchise.

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