Patriots Tabbed as a Trade ‘Suitor’ for Projected $71 Million Star

Patriots potential trade target Tee Higgins.

Getty Patriots potential trade target Tee Higgins.

The Patriots are still sitting on nearly $50 million in cap space, more than anyone in the league. While  their attempts to dole out that money to available players this offseason has not exactly gone well, they still have opportunities to make a move or two—in the trade market. And the most prominent name on the trade market here as March wraps up happens to play the position the Patriots are most desperate to fill: wide receiver.

That would be Bengals star Tee Higgins.

After the Patriots failed in their attempt to land Calvin Ridley, who spurned the team late in the process to sign with Tennessee, they moved on to signing Vikings receiver K.J. Osborn, who does provide an upgrade to one of the worst receiving corps in the NFL.. But Osborn and returning starter Kendrick Bourne are both No. 2-3 receivers, at best.

The Patriots are badly missing a top-level target. Higgins, who has requested a trade from Cincinnati after the Bengals franchise-tagged him, is a player ready to step into a No. 1 role after spending his career behind Bengals star Ja’Marr Chase. At Bleacher Report, the Patriots are tagged as one of the potential suitors for Higgins as he looks for a big, new long-term contract.

Tee Higgins Wants a Trade & a Contract

B/R’s Kristopher Knox projects Higgins warranting a three-year deal worth $71 million. That would work well with the Patriots’ current cap structure.

Wrote Knox: “While Higgins has largely filled the No. 2 receiver role in Cincinnati, he’s shown plenty of signs that he could be a No. 1 elsewhere. Despite splitting the target share with Chase, the 25-year-old had 1,000-yard campaigns in both 2021 and 2022.

“The New England Patriots need a No. 1 target and are open to trading for receiver help, according to head coach Jerod Mayo. ‘One hundred percent. We’re still open on the trade market,’ he told reporters.”

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.

Patriots Could Reshape Their Offense

It’s not clear what kind of package would have to be offered up in order to land Higgins, but it would likely require something along the lines of what the Eagles gave up to get A.J. Brown from the Titans in 2022—a first- and third-round pick—though Higgins is a step down from Brown’s level.

The Patriots, with the No. 3 pick in this year’s draft, won’t be sending that away for Higgins, but could perhaps give the Bengals their second-rounder (No. 34 overall) and a third-rounder this year. Or, they could offer a 2025 pick. It’s a considerable cost, but that’s how badly the Patriots need a receiver.

And there’s no one better available than Higgins. At just 25 years old, Higgins struggled with injuries in 2023, but still averaged 15.6 yards per reception when healthy, in 12 games.

There’s still the question of who will be throwing passes to Higgins and the other Pats receivers, as the Pats are still figuring out whether to draft a quarterback at No. 3 or move the pick. But the current quarterbacks are Jacoby Brissett and Bailey Zappe, and there’s no point in crafting a very good receiver room with Higgins, Osborn, Bourne and Pop Douglas in place if Brissett is the starter.

But one thing at a time. If there is a chance to get Higgins, the Patriots should do so, and sort out whom they’ll take at quarterback thereafter.

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