It's been a rocky offseason for Tee Higgins, who requested a trade off of the Cincinnati Bengals after being franchise tagged by them and seeing virtually no progress get made towards a long-term deal. With mandatory minicamp in the rearview mirror now, though, it looks like Higgins has decided to put that all behind him, as he has signed his franchise tender with the Bengals for the upcoming season.

Despite the fact he is coming off of a disappointing 2023 campaign (42 REC, 656 YDS, 5 TD), Higgins made it clear he was looking for a new deal this offseason. The problem is that Cincinnati has a ton of other contract extensions to worry about, meaning that Higgins took a bit of a backseat for them this offseason. The team franchise tagged him, but with no progress being made towards a long-term deal, Higgins decided to request a trade.

The Bengals showed little to no interest in trading Higgins, and it seemed like this situation was headed towards a potential training camp holdout. Instead, Higgins has decided to put pen to paper on his franchise tender, meaning that he will be on the field for Cincinnati for at least the 2024 campaign, although it's clear that this is only a short-term solution, and that a long-term answer needs to come to fruition at some point in the near future.

Bengals, Tee Higgins still not close to long-term deal

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (5) reacts after completing a catch in the fourth quarter during a Week 9 NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills
Mandatory Credit: Kareem Elgazzar-USA TODAY NETWORK

Higgins is now locked in on a one-year, $21.8 million deal with the Bengals for the 2024 campaign, but he still needs a long-term deal in the near future. As of right now, those talks are still not looking good according to the latest reports, and it's fair to wonder what this deal means for the two sides down the line.

If a long-term deal can't be hammered out, Higgins would once again be set for free agency next offseason, meaning that Cincinnati is in virtually the same position they just got themselves out of. They could franchise tag Higgins again, but the price on that tag will only increase, and chances are his value when it comes to a long-term deal isn't getting any cheaper either. They could also trade Higgins, but considering they just ignored his trade request, that seems unlikely.

Everyone knew money was eventually going to become an issue for Cincinnati, and while they managed to sign star quarterback Joe Burrow to a massive extension, they have really only placed a band-aid on the Higgins situation, rather than doing surgery. Ja'Marr Chase also is due for a new deal, and similar to Higgins, his price tag is only continuing to go up.

The good news is that Burrow, Chase, and Higgins will all be on the field for the Bengals this upcoming season. But even with this resolution, Higgins' future with Cincinnati is still very much up in the air, and it will be worth keeping an eye on this situation to see if the two sides can find a way to come to terms on a long-term deal that will keep him with the Bengals for the foreseeable future.