so sad to leave: wide receiver Tee Higgins announces his departure due to his…..

The Cincinnati Bengals’ mandatory minicamp commenced on Tuesday, marked by the notable absence of wide receiver Tee Higgins. In March, the Bengals placed a $21.8 million franchise tag on Higgins despite his requests for a trade or a contract extension.

Higgins has yet to sign the franchise tag, which means he cannot be fined for missing the camp. Star receiver Ja’Marr Chase attended the minicamp, with two years remaining on his rookie contract.

The contract situation with Higgins is complicated further by the team’s future with Chase. After the Bengals picked up Chase’s fifth-year option in April, his rookie contract will conclude in 2025. Given Chase’s impressive performance and the current wide receiver market, he is likely to seek a substantial contract. His former LSU teammate, Justin Jefferson, recently secured a four-year, $140 million deal with the Minnesota Vikings, setting a precedent for Chase’s future negotiations.

Higgins’ request for an extension is understandable, considering his back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2021 and 2022, and commendable 2023 performance despite a hamstring injury that caused him to miss five games. His significant contributions during the Bengals’ 2021 playoff run, including 100-yard games in the AFC Championship and Super Bowl 56, highlight his value.

Reports from early in the offseason suggest that Higgins seeks a deal similar to Michael Pittman’s three-year, $70 million extension with the Indianapolis Colts, though no long-term agreement has been reached with Cincinnati.

Higgins would likely be the primary receiving threat on most NFL rosters, but alongside Chase, he is arguably the best WR2 in the league. Given the escalating costs of wide receiver contracts, it is unlikely any team could afford to sign two such high-value players.

Additionally, quarterback Joe Burrow is expected to earn over $45 million annually starting in 2025, complicating the Bengals’ ability to retain all their key players, including impending contract negotiations for Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard. This financial strain could be a factor in Higgins’ desire for a trade.

Despite Higgins’ potential desire to leave, the Bengals’ front office recognizes his importance to the team and prefers to retain him under the franchise tag rather than trade him. Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin addressed the Higgins situation at the 2024 Scouting Combine.

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