Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins is currently at odds with the team about his contract, or lack thereof.

Higgins' recent Instagram post didn't exactly quell any of the concern surrounding him.

The Bengals slapped a franchise tag on Higgins earlier this offseason, preventing him from reaching free agency. As one would expect, this annoyed Higgins, who requested a trade.

Later in the offseason, Higgins basically retracted his trade request by saying that he expected to play for Cincinnati in 2024. But that does not necessarily mean that things are rosy between Higgins and the organization, as his social media activity indicates.

The Bengals have until mid-July to strike a long-term deal with Higgins, but based on Cincy's history when applying franchise tags, it doesn't look like that will happen. Since 2013, the Bengals have used their franchise tag three times (before Higgins), and none of those instances resulted in a contract extension.

Higgins has yet to sign his $21.8 million franchise tender and is not eligible to participate in offseason workouts as a result.

What will the ending be for the Bengals and Tee Higgins?

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (5) warms up before the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

If the Bengals decide to trade Higgins, there would be no shortage of interested ballclubs.

Higgins is just 25 years old and posted back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns in 2021 and 2022. He only caught 42 passes for 656 yards and five touchdowns this past season, but he also missed five games due to injuries.

When healthy, Higgins is a terrific receiver, and it's important to keep in mind that he registered over 1,000 yards twice as the club's No. 2 wide out behind Ja'Marr Chase.

And that is where things get complicated for the Bengals.

Chase just became eligible for an extension this offseason, so Cincinnati has to give him a new deal, as well. The Bengals are already paying Joe Burrow $55 million annually, so it seems unlikely that they will cough up major cash for two wide receivers.

Cincinnati will almost certainly prioritize Chase over Higgins, which will probably lead to Higgins being the odd man out.

Of course, the Bengals can choose to merely go through next season with Higgins on the roster, try to win a Super Bowl and then revisit this whole situation next offseason when he hits free agency. The chances of Higgins not eventually signing his franchise tender seem slim to none. He is not going to want to sit out, especially in a contract year.

That means the best course of action for both sides may be Higgins signing for one year, playing terrific football in 2024 and helping Cincinnati contend for a championship. Remember: this team is three seasons removed from a Super Bowl appearance, and two years ago, Higgins and Co. made it to the AFC Championship Game.

The Bengals are also the one team that has demonstrated the ability to beat the Kansas City Chiefs, so the potential for a deep playoff run still exists here.

Higgins wants to get paid. Cincinnati wants to conserve its resources. We get all of that, and in the end, that's what will probably happen once Higgins becomes a free agent next March. But the most likely outcome for 2024 will be Higgins inking his franchise tender and playing one more season in Cincy.