Blockbuster Trade Proposal Sends Bengals’ WR to AFC South

Tee Higgins

Getty Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins.

The Cincinnati Bengals have dealt with the drama surrounding wide receiver Tee Higgins for months — ever since they hit him with a franchise tag that would pay him $21.8 million in 2024 instead of granting him a contract extension.

One trade proposal involving Higgins would create an electrifying new quarterback-wide receiver duo in the AFC and give the Bengals high value for a player who seems destined to leave after the season when he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine proposed a trade that would send Higgins and a 2025 sixth-round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for a 2025 second-round pick.

Higgins still hasn’t signed his franchise tender and is holding out of OTAs after multiple trade requests in the offseason.

“Several teams should be interested in Higgins, but there’s no better situation for him than reuniting with fellow Clemson alum Trevor Lawrence in Jacksonville,” Ballentine wrote. :The two formed a dynamic chemistry for the Tigers, and the Jaguars desperately need Lawrence to continue progressing toward his ceiling in 2024. That became harder to do when Calvin Ridley opted to sign with the Tennessee Titans.”

Higgins, Lawrence Have Long History Together

Higgins and Lawrence were a historic QB-WR duo in college at Clemson, where they played together for two seasons, winning a College Football Playoff national championship following the 2018 season then making it back to the CFP national championship game following the 2019 season, where they lost to LSU and current Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow.

Once Lawrence became the starting quarterback early in his true freshman season, Higgins’ career took off. Higgins had 2,103 receiving yards and 25 touchdowns over two seasons with Lawrence and was a two-time All-ACC selection — he had 1,167 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior in 2019.

Higgins was selected with the first pick of the second round in the 2020 NFL draft (No. 33 overall) and Lawrence was the No. 1 overall pick one year later in 2021.

Would Higgins Impact Bengals’ Team Chemistry?

Ballentine accounts for Higgins possibly throwing off the team chemistry for the Bengals in 2024 — a year in which the team should be a Super Bowl contender with a healthy Burrow back in the fold after he missed the final seven games of 2023 with season-ending wrist surgery.

“If this were a Madden franchise, it would make some sense to push the chips to the middle of the table and have Higgins play on the one-year tag,” Ballentine wrote. “But the human element and the frustration that comes with playing without long-term financial stability could get in the way of that plan.”

One player could make the decision on whether or not to trade Higgins a moot point — if 2024 third-round pick Jermaine Burton shows he can be a legitimate WR2 option behind Ja’Marr Chase, like Higgins has in the past.

That’s a big ask, though. Higgins had over 900 receiving yards as a rookie in 2020 then back-to-back seasons of over 1,000 receiving yards in 2021 and 2022. He battled injuries in 2023, when he had career lows of 42 receptions, 656 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns while missing a career-high 5 games.

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