The next four months will tell a lot about Tee Higgins' future in the NFL. The Cincinnati Bengals officially placed the franchise tag on Higgins on Monday, presumably tying him to the team for at least another season.

The Bengals have until July 15 to reach a contract extension with Higgins. He'll be paid over $21.8 million in 2024 if no extension is reached.

Both sides have expressed interest in remaining together but with Joe Burrow's record extension starting in 2025 and fellow wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase also in line for a large deal, Higgins might be the odd man out of the equation. He'll likely demand No. 1 receiver money which could be hard for the Bengals to swing.

There is a potential scenario in which the Bengals trade Higgins before the July deadline. The team trading for him would certainly lay out plans for a contract extension and some franchises would be willing to give up a top pick for Higgins, per Ari Meirov.

Meirov mentioned two scenarios, neither of which ended with a long-term deal for Higgins in Cincinnati. Similar to what they did with safety Jessie Bates in 2022, the Bengals could let Higgins play out the season on the franchise tag and let him walk in free agency next year.

Bates signed a four-year, $64 million deal with the Atlanta Falcons after playing the 2022 season with the Bengals under the franchise tag. Bates did not sign his tag until Aug. 23 of that year after holding out for much of training camp.

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The more beneficial option for the Bengals would be to find a trade partner for Higgins this offseason. It makes sense if Cincinnati has already concluded that it won’t be able to satisfy Higgins' contract requests.

There's potential to be a lot of unknowns surrounding Tee Higgins this offseason. Coming off an injury-riddled 2023, it might be in his best interest to work on his mental and physical health while his agent discusses plans with the Bengals.