This one got my attention. CINCINNATI BENGALS WR TEE HIGGINS → DETROIT LIONS
- Trade compensation: 2023 1st, 2024 4th
- Contract acquired: One year, $2,993,000 ($0 total guaranteed)
Higgins is the lone rookie contract player who makes our list here. He would probably be traded later in the offseason as compared to the above players, all of whom could be moved right after the 2023 league year begins on March 15. As we saw last offseason across the NFL, the game’s top young wide receivers taken outside of the first round — and thus without fifth-year options in their contracts — can all but refuse to play in the final year of their rookie deals without a multi-year extension. Will Higgins end up like Deebo Samuel, back with his drafting team on a strong new deal, or like A.J. Brown, traded to a new team around the draft.
All of that said, there’s no guarantee the Bengals can’t or won’t work out a long-term deal with the 2020 second-rounder. A video during Super Bowl media week of wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase discussing quarterback Joe Burrow’s pending extension has Bengals fans optimistic, and perhaps they should be, but this would more than likely be a franchise-altering offseason for Cincinnati from an operational standpoint if they work out extensions for Higgins and Burrow.
Last offseason, Burrow made a public plea to an audience of Bengals reporters about the importance of safety Jessie Bates III both on and off the field. Bates, who shares an agent with Higgins, was not provided with an offer he found commensurate with his level of play and is once again a pending free agent coming off a season spent on the franchise tag.
From Detroit’s perspective, while they made a huge trade-up in the 2022 NFL Draft for speedy wide receiver Jameson Williams, they followed that move up by sending tight end T.J. Hockenson to the Minnesota Vikings for a package including a second-round pick at the trade deadline.
Here, the Lions send the No. 18 overall pick — the same pick the Philadelphia Eagles traded to the Tennessee Titans for A.J. Brown during last year’s draft — along with a future fourth-rounder for Higgins. Higgins can be the new big-bodied receiver in the Lions’ offense, filling the void left by Hockenson and potentially free agent D.J. Chark Jr. Last but certainly not least, the Lions will still have the No. 6 overall pick from the Los Angeles Rams in this year’s draft.
Higgins has been durable and productive through his first three seasons, using his big frame to haul in 44 contested catches over the span — fifth most among wide receivers in the NFL — with his 25 catches on balls thrown 20-plus yards downfield tied for 14th. Defenses would be in a bind trying to defend Higgins, Williams and Amon-Ra St. Brown each week.