Patriots Listed as ‘Landing Spot’ for Projected $74 Million WR

Receiver Tee Higgins would be a major score for the Patriots offseason.

Getty Receiver Tee Higgins would be a major score for the Patriots offseason.

Sure, we all know the big hole looming over the Patriots offseason this winter—it’s the quarterback. They’re not bringing back the Mac JonesBailey Zappe combination, and they probably should not have been allowed to do so in the first place. But while quarterback is the overriding question, the fact is, the Patriots are lacking at every position on the offensive side of the ball, especially at wide receiver, where the team might be even more desperate for talent than at QB.

Kendrick Bourne is probably their best wide receiver, but he is a No. 2/3 on a decent team. They have two more years of JuJu Schuster-Smith (they can wriggle out of his contract in 2025), who likely is playing on one knee, and two more years of 30-year-old DeVante Parker, who can’t stay healthy and has not been all that good when he has.

Rookie sixth-round pick Demario Douglas was promising last year, and figures to have a more prominent role. But he is a 5-foot-8 slot guy.

The Patriots need a receiver, a top-shelf receiver, the kind of player the team hasn’t really had since Randy Moss left in 2010. And at Pro Football Focus, they’ve got the Patriots zeroing in on exactly such a player in free agency: Bengals star Tee Higgins.

Patriots Offseason Must Focus on WRs

The Bengals are likely to feel the pain of the salary cap this offseason when they have to decide how to shake out their wide receiver room, with Ja’Marr Chase up for what should be one of the biggest wide-receiver contracts in the league. Assuming he gets more than $100 million over four years, the Bengals will have to let Higgins walk.

That’s where the Patriots can swoop in for the kill.

No matter what the Pats do at quarterback—a Justin Fields trade, a Russ Wilson signing, drafting Jayden Daniels—they’re going to need to give their new signal-caller  someone to throw to. And Higgins could be the best guy on the market, assuming the Bengals let him get there.

“The Patriots need more wide receiver help than any team in the NFL, so they should be in on every name,” PFF noted. “New England is flush with cap space and could use the No. 3 overall pick on a quarterback. Putting that quarterback in a similar position as Mac Jones — lacking legitimate wide receiver talent — would be a bad idea.”

Tee Higgins Could Get a Franchise Tag From Bengals

A word of warning—PFF has also predicted that Higgins would wind up getting a franchise tag from the Bengals, which would make some sense because it would at least give the team one more season with Higgins, Chase and quarterback Joe Burrow, hopefully, all healthy. Higgins missed five games this season and struggled when healthy because the offense was missing Burrow.

Spotrac has Higgins projected to warrant a four-year, $74 million deal in the offseason. If the Bengals don’t re-sign him, that could wind up being a bargain once he is out from behind Chase’s shadow.

As PFF also wrote of Higgins, ranking him No. 4 on its list of free agents:

“Injuries hampered almost the entire 2023 season for Higgins after his second consecutive 1,000-yard season in 2022 with a receiving grade above 75.0. A franchise tag already seemed likely heading into this season, and with little new data to impact the negotiation either way, that seems inevitable.”

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