Tee Higgins’ $21,800,000 Bengals solution puzzles NFL salary cap expert: “They can’t fine you”

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Tee Higgins contract situation

Tee Higgins entered the 2024 NFL offseason seeking a new long-term contract extension from the Cincinnati Bengals. They declined to give him what he was reportedly looking for and instead decided to place the franchise tag on their star wide receiver.

The decision seemed to be what would cause a potentially lengthy holdout for Higgins, but he instead decided to officially sign the tender and will now apparently report to training camp. This means that he will currently be playing on a one-year contract worth $21.8 million.

NFL salary cap expert Jason Fitzgerald commented on the situation during an appearance on the Ross Tucker Podcast. He questioned Higgins' decision to sign the tag so early on in the offseason.

"Usually, in those kinds of spots, you would hold out of training camp. They can't fine you. You're just trying to push them on it and you're going to hold out for as much time as you can. To sign it, that's kind of surprising.
"It didn't sound like there's anything on the horizon for them doing anything with him long term, or having a trade partner," Fitzgerald said.
"Maybe he's just resigned to the fact that I'm going to be playing with them, so I may as well do whatever I can to make sure I'm a big part of this offense, and I can put up big numbers and they can let me walk next year."

Jason Fitzgerald explained that he still had time before he was required to join the team without suffering any fines.

Per the rules of the franchise tag, Higgins is not technically under contract with the Bengals until he signs the tender, but he is also forbidden from negotiating with other teams, as the team still has exclusive rights. He still had time to keep the pressure on them, but apparently felt it was more important to get back on the football field.

Can Tee Higgins be traded on the franchise tag?

Tee Higgins
Tee Higgins

While Tee Higgins is reportedly set to join the Cincinnati Bengals for training camp on the franchise tag this year, that doesn't necessarily mean he's locked into playing for them for the 2024 NFL season. He is still permitted to continue negotiating a long-term contract extension and is also allowed to seek a trade.

Higgins has reportedly already requested to be traded, presumably to a team that is more willing to give him a new deal prior to the start of the season.

After the Bengals already made Joe Burrow the highest-paid quarterback of all time and have pending negotiations with Ja'Marr Chase, it doesn't appear they are willing to also give Tee Higgins a massive deal.

If they don't extend him this season, they either need to trade him this year or run the risk of letting him walk away for nothing next offseason.

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Edited by Krutik Jain
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