Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins has still not signed his franchise tender and has not been present for the team's mandatory minicamp as a result, but is he subject to fines for not being in attendance?

Good news for Higgins' bank account: he isn't, via Ian Rapoport of NFL media.

The Bengals slapped a franchise tag on Higgins earlier this offseason, preventing him from reaching free agency. Because he has not yet put the pen to the paper to ink his one-year tender, he is not eligible to rejoin the team and is technically not under contract.

Higgins requested a trade after Cincinnati applied its franchise tag to him, but he later indicated that he expected to play out the 2024 campaign in Cincy.

Of course, that won't be possible if Higgins does not sign his tender.

The Bengals have until mid-July to reach a long-term deal with Higgins. If the two sides are unable to reach an agreement by then, Higgins either must sign for one year or hold out. Based on what we have seen thus far, a holdout seems entirely possible.

Will the Bengals ultimately trade Tee Higgins?

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

There is still plenty of time remaining between now and the start of the regular season, but it will go by quickly, and Cincinnati surely wants Higgins in camp soon.

If this contract standoff does indeed drag into training camp, the Bengals may seriously consider trading Higgins. Now, would Higgins actually threaten to sit out next season? It seems unlikely given the fact that he is slated to hit free agency next March. While other clubs would unquestionably still be interested in signing him, his value would almost surely dip if he opts not to play a game in 2024.

But Cincinnati may consider avoiding the potential headache altogether and trading Higgins now.

That being said, the Bengals are trying to win a Super Bowl, and jettisoning Higgins would obviously be counterproductive to that goal. With Higgins and Ja'Marr Chase, Cincinnati boasts one of the best receiver duos in football.

Chase himself became eligible for a contract extension this offseason and skipped organized team activities, but he is present for mandatory minicamp, per Rapoport.

The problem for the Bengals when it comes to giving Higgins a multi-year deal is that they are prioritizing Chase at the position. Chase is the team's clear No. 1 receiver, so paying him ahead of Higgins is the natural course of action. Plus, Cincinnati is already paying quarterback Joe Burrow $55 million annually. The chances of them tying up that much money into Higgins with Burrow's deal on the payroll and Chase on tap for a massive extension seem unlikely.

But we shouldn't forget that the Bengals are three seasons removed from making a Super Bowl appearance, and they are the one team that has seemed to give the Kansas City Chiefs trouble. Cincinnati's best strategy may be to wait things out with Higgins and hope that he eventually signs his franchise tender. Then, the Bengals can play out 2024 and revisit this situation next offseason.