- ESPN Staff Writer
- Previously a college football writer for The Dallas Morning News
- University of North Texas graduate
INDIANAPOLIS — The Cincinnati Bengals emphatically let the rest of the NFL know that wide receiver Tee Higgins isn’t on the trading block.
During his annual session at the NFL scouting combine, team executive Duke Tobin refuted any notion that the team could be interested in shopping the standout receiver this offseason. The team’s longtime director of player personnel said teams haven’t presented any offers, and if they did, trading Higgins wasn’t a thought.
“If they want a receiver, go find your own,” Tobin said Tuesday. “In my opinion, Tee Higgins is a good piece for the Cincinnati Bengals. The trade stuff is a little ridiculous right now.”
Higgins, a third-year player, is about to enter the final year of his rookie contract. He is one of several players who will be up for contract extensions this year or next year, including quarterback Joe Burrow and fellow receiver Ja’Marr Chase.
Since entering the league in 2020, the former Clemson standout has been one of the most productive receivers in the league. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Higgins is one of 15 players to have 3,000 total receiving yards. In 2022, the second-round pick had his second consecutive 1,000-yard season.
That production has extended into the team’s last two postseason runs as well. In Cincinnati’s Super Bowl LVI loss to the Los Angeles Rams, Higgins had four catches for 100 receiving yards and two touchdowns. In Cincinnati’s AFC Championship Game loss to the Kansas City Chiefs that ended the Bengals’ most recent season, Higgins had a team-high 83 receiving yards and a touchdown in the 23-20 loss at Arrowhead Stadium.
Bengals coach Zac Taylor said that he laughed off any chatter about the team dealing Higgins this season.
“That’s why whenever you see the rumors floating around there, it’s nonsense,” Taylor said inside the Indiana Convention Center. “At the end of the day, I do get to call the plays and it’s fun having [playmakers] out there. You don’t really want to give that up.”
Higgins represents a $4 million cap hit for the Bengals in 2023 as they seek to figure out the futures of several notable players, including Burrow.
Tobin said the team has a rough estimate as to how much Burrow’s potential contract extension might cost as the team prepares to enter free agency, which starts the week of March 12.
However, the team does not have a set deadline as to when the contract would be completed as the franchise quarterback enters his fourth year in the NFL.
“I have been pretty vocal about what Joe means to us, and my job is to facilitate his success as best I can with putting pieces around him, and his contract will get done when it gets done,” Tobin said. “But it’s a good problem to have. He’s a vital part of what we’re doing.”
Tobin and Taylor made it clear that Higgins is part of the team’s recent success. The Bengals have won the AFC North in back-to-back seasons and reached at least the AFC Championship Game in both of those years, splitting two games against Kansas City. Tobin, who acts as the team’s de facto general manager, said Higgins is exactly who Cincinnati hopes for when it acquires a player in the draft.
“I envision him being part of what we do going forward for a long time,” Tobin said. “That’s the hope. We want our guys — especially our guys that come in and prove that they can help us win in a big way.”
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