Proposed Blockbuster Trade Ships Lions $21 Million WR

Jared Goff Amon-Ra St. Brown Tee Higgins

Getty Jared Goff of the Detroit Lions.

The Detroit Lions have been picking a wide receiver in the first round in NFL pundits’ mock drafts lately.

Fox Sports’ Nick Wright also sees the Lions getting a wide receiver – but not drafting one. In his April 9 mock draft, Lions traded their 29th overall pick to the Cincinnati Bengals in exchange for wide receiver Tee Higgins.

The Bengals placed the franchise tag on Higgins at the beginning of NFL free agency. But Cincinnati could still trade the 25-year-old receiver this offseason because a potential contract extension for the receiver is complicated.

The Bengals have until July 15 to sign Higgins to a long-term deal. If he plays on the franchise tag during 2024, he will make $21.8 million.

Last season, Higgins recorded 42 receptions for 656 yards and 5 touchdowns in 12 games.

How WR Tee Higgins Could Fit With the Lions

With how well the Lions addressed their defensive needs in free agency, they could look to add another offensive weapon in the first round this year. If that’s the case, it’s worth wondering whether Detroit would prefer a proven option in Higgins.

He had a mostly career-low stat line in 2023, but he missed five games because of injury. Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow was also less than healthy to begin the season and then sat out the second half of the year.

Still, Higgins averaged 15.6 yards per reception.

He would more than replace Josh Reynolds, who departed the Lions for the Denver Broncos in NFL free agency. Reynolds was second among Detroit receivers in yards, receptions and touchdowns in 2023.

Playing opposite Amon-Ra St. Brown, Higgins is a candidate to reach 1,000 receiving yards. He posted 1,000-yard campaigns in 2021 and 2022 playing with fellow receiver Ja’Marr Chase.

The Lions, though, will have to feel confident in their new defensive signings to use their first-rounder choice on a receiver. Although cornerbacks Carlton Davis and Amik Robertson and defensive linemen Marcus Davenport and D.J. Reader are solid additions, they may not be long-term fixtures in Detroit.

How Likely Are the Bengals to Trade Higgins?

The rumors surrounding Higgins haven’t quieted even though the Bengals placed the franchise tag on him. But that doesn’t mean he will definitely be traded.

If Higgins departs in free agency next offseason, the Bengals will receive a third-round compensatory selection in 2026. That could be enough for Cincinnati to reconsider moving on from Higgins now.

Getting a first-round pick this year for Higgins will likely be tempting, but the Bengals have already lost veteran receiver Tyler Boyd. The prudent move for Cincinnati could be to hold onto Higgins to compete in 2024 even if that means accepting the risk of losing him next offseason.

Higgins’ future in Cincinnati is murky because of the big contract Burrow received last offseason. The Bengals also have to extend Chase, the team’s top wideout, a new contract.

While Spotrac reported the Lions have the eighth-most salary cap space as of April 14, Detroit is in nearly the same situation. Both quarterback Jared Goff and St. Brown are entering the final year of their contracts in 2024, and the Lions would like to offer extensions to both stars.

On April 14, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported Goff’s deal could be worth between $45-50 million annually.

That might not leave much space for Higgins in Detroit. Therefore, adding a receiver on a rookie deal with the No. 29 overall pick could be a much more appealing option.

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