The Bengals will reportedly place the franchise tag on Tee Higgins. Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports Dec 23, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (5) at the line of scrimmage against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second quarter at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest decision for the Cincinnati Bengals was what they would do with star receiver Tee Higgins headed into the offseason, whose contract expired after the 2023 season. The Bengals didn’t make anyone wait too long.

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported on Friday night that the Bengals will be placing the franchise tag on Higgins.

He added later that “The franchise tag number is expected to be around $21.8M, fully guaranteed.”

It’s worth noting, of course, that the Bengals could still trade Higgins or sign him to a long-term deal. This does, however, mean that Higgins — who was one of the top players in this year’s class — will not be headed to free agency.

Cincinnati’s decision drew a strong reaction and a lot of speculation.

Higgins, much like his team, is coming off of a season that was hampered by injuries. He played in only 12 games in 2023, catching 42 passes for 656 yards with five touchdowns. In 2021, he caught 74 passes for 1,091 yards with six touchdowns, helping the Bengals reach Super Bowl LVI. Cincinnati repeated as AFC North champions in 2022 and returned to the AFC Championship Game. Higgins was again a big factor, catching 74 passes for 1,029 yards with seven touchdowns.

[Ian Rapoport on Twitter/X]

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