One of the biggest question marks of the Cincinnati Bengals’ offseason appears to be heading toward a resolution.

Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins anticipates playing for Cincinnati in 2024, he told reporters at his youth football camp Sunday. Higgins, who is entering his fifth year in the league, had requested a trade earlier in the offseason after Cincinnati placed the franchise tag on him.

“I do anticipate it,” Higgins said, according to video posted by WXIX-TV. “I’ve grown a love for Cincinnati that I didn’t think I would. [I’m] looking forward to it.”

For the past two years, Higgins and Cincinnati have been unable to come to terms on a long-term contract. The two sides made little progress ahead of a 2023 season that saw Higgins battle injuries.

A rib injury he suffered in Week 4 and a hamstring issue ahead of Week 10 forced Higgins to miss five combined games last year. He finished with 42 catches for 656 receiving yards and five touchdowns, which were all career lows.

Despite the contract impasse, the Bengals continued to value Higgins for the upcoming year. Should Higgins sign the franchise tag, he will have a fully guaranteed one-year deal at $21.8 million. The two sides can negotiate a long-term deal until 4 p.m. ET on July 15.

Of the eight players given the franchise tag this offseason, Higgins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Antoine Winfield Jr. are the only ones who have yet to agree to a contract extension with their respective clubs.

That group includes Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr., who signed a three-year contract last month that includes $41 million in guaranteed money.

Pittman ranks fifth in receiving yards (3,662) by a player selected in the 2020 NFL draft. Higgins, who was taken one spot ahead of Pittman with the No. 33 pick, is fourth in his draft class at 3,684 receiving yards.

The three players ahead of Higgins — the Minnesota Vikings’ Justin Jefferson, Dallas Cowboys’ CeeDee Lamb and San Francisco 49ers’ Brandon Aiyuk — have also yet to receive contract extensions. All were first-round picks and are under contract for the 2024 season via the fifth-year rookie option.


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