Packers Blockbuster Trade Pitch Nets Team $22 Million WR

Brian Gutekunst, Packers

Getty General manager Brian Gutekunst of the Green Bay Packers.

The Green Bay Packers fielded the youngest offense in the NFL in 2023 and fell just short of the NFC Championship Game, which argues for a big offseason move on that side of the football.

A blockbuster trade is sitting there for Green Bay in the form of Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins, if general manager Brian Gutekunst and company want it. The Bengals used the franchise tag to keep Higgins, a former second-round pick, under contract through 2025 at the price of $21.8 million. However, Cincinnati’s long-time director of player personnel Duke Tobin left open the possibility that the team might trade Higgins for the right offer when speaking to media members Tuesday.

“He fits us perfectly, so we tagged him for that reason,” Tobin said at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis on February 27, per ESPN. “The hypotheticals of what could happen, you know, it’s hard for me to comment on.”

That is a fairly drastic turnaround from Tobin’s comments at last year’s combine, when he sent a message to teams interested in dealing for Higgins to “go find your own” wide receiver.

Tobin’s pivot toward far softer and more open language led to subsequent discussion among multiple NFL analysts and fanbases about who might get into the game for an elite player such as Higgins with WR1 potential. Among those offering viewpoints was Peter Bukowski of Locked on Packers.

“If Tee Higgins is available, the #Packers have to think about going all-in for a player that good who is that young,” Bukowski posted to X. “They have the draft ammo to make it work.”

Packers Can Justify Trading 1st-Round Pick for Tee Higgins Based on Draft Position, Roster Needs

Tee Higgins

GettyCincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins.

Earlier this week, Ari Meirov of 33rd Team offered an inside look at the expected range for Higgins’ trade value.

“Several team executives believe the #Bengals could get a 1st-round pick or an early 2nd-round pick if they were to consider trading WR Tee Higgins,” Meirov wrote.

Green Bay holds the 25th pick in the first round and the Nos. 41 and 58 overall selections in the second round, per Tankathon. Clear needs the Packers must address this offseason include the defensive backfield, both cornerback and safety, as well as the offensive line — most likely a replacement for left tackle David Bakhtiari, who is a prime candidate to wind up a cap casualty as Green Bay can save nearly $21 million by cutting or trading the five-time All-Pro.

Both offensive tackle and cornerback are premier positions in the NFL, which devalues the Packers’ first-round position to a degree because so many of the best players at each spot will likely already be off the board by the time Green Bay goes on the clock.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. projected in his first mock draft, published on January 23, that five offensive tackles and four cornerbacks will already be unavailable by the time the Packers select at No. 25. In that scenario, the gap between prospects who can be had at those positions with the 25th pick as opposed to the 41st selection shouldn’t be exceptionally large.

As such, Green Bay can justify using its first-round pick to trade for a player like Higgins, who could theoretically operate as quarterback Jordan Love’s primary sidekick for the next 10 years.

Tee Higgins Represents Chance for Packers to Secure No. 1 Wide Receiver for Jordan Love

GettyCincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins.

Of course, there are legitimate arguments against making such a deal — such as the one centered around all the young talent Green Bay already has in the receiver room who won’t cost the Packers big money for at least another two or three seasons.

While those points are legitimate, and Spotrac currently projects Higgins’ long-term market value at nearly $74.5 million over a new four-year contract (roughly $18.6 million annually), there is Higgins’ upside to consider.

As Bukowski pointed out Wednesday in response to criticism of his suggestion that Green Bay pursue the Bengals receiver, Higgins led the NFL in receiving during Ja’Marr Chase’s sustained injury absence in 2022 when he operated as Joe Burrow’s No. 1 target.

Higgins battled injury on and off for much of the 2023 campaign, but eclipsed 1,000 yards and caught at least 74 passes and 6 TDs in each of the previous two seasons serving primarily as the No. 2 receiver on the Bengals’ roster. At 6’4″, 220 pounds and only 25 years old, Higgins could legitimately become one of the league’s best 10-15 wideouts operating in a top role with a QB like Love in a system like head coach Matt LaFleur’s.

The Packers proved they are ready to compete with the NFC’s elite in 2024 and beyond, and improvements to problem areas on the defense are paramount to realizing that future. That said, a truly elite receiver is crucial as well, and Higgins represents an opportunity to secure one.

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