Bleacher Report suggests the Patriots trade for big-name WR before start of season

Cincinnati Bengals v New England Patriots
Cincinnati Bengals v New England Patriots / Nick Grace/GettyImages

It's that point in the offseason where not many players remain available in free agency, nor are teams actively looking to pull off massive trades with just two weeks left until the regular season begins. However, given the circumstances the Patriots are dealing with and the media's obsession with hypothetical trades, Bleacher Report has suggested they make one last effort to put their offense over the top ahead of the 2023 season.

And what do they think the Patriots should do? Trade for Cincinnati Bengals' wide receiver Tee Higgins.

The fourth-year player out of Clemson has been one of the primary names floated for Bill Belichick to target as soon as possible. Although Higgins is not said to be on the chopping block, as the Bengals have actually said the opposite, Cincinnati will find themselves in a tough situation when it comes time to pay both Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase.

Alex Ballentine of Bleacher Report details those inevitable difficulties GM Duke Tobin will face as soon as next offseason.

"ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Joe Burrow is expected to become the highest-paid player in the NFL at some point this offseason. Then you consider that Ja'Marr Chase will likely get a market-setting or top-of-the-market contract when his time comes, and it gets harder to see the Bengals being able to fit their three offensive stars under the cap while still building a contender."

This continues to be the leading argument when discussing Higgins' unlikely future with his current team. Outside of knowing Burrow and Chase will need to be paid, the Bengals are set to have 38 players hit free agency in 2024, meaning they will have even less money to spread around as they try to prioritize certain players.

But if, for some reason, they come around and decide to see what offers they could get for Higgins on the trade market, Bleacher Report suggests the Patriots send them three draft picks in return, including next year's first-rounder.

Patriots/Bengals trade

Whether Higgins is worth a first-rounder will be debatable since he was taken in the second round of the 2020 draft, and some question his validity as a true WR1. But he's certainly proven his value through the first three years of his NFL career, totaling 215 receptions for 3,028 yards and 19 touchdowns so far, ending the last two seasons with over 1,000 receiving yards.

All that has been accomplished while playing behind Chase, who became the Bengals' leading wideout when he was drafted a year later.

It appears Higgins can handle being the go-to guy for a quarterback, and what better place to do that than New England? Mac Jones could still use a clear number one guy, and Higgins fits the bill.

However, the bigger question is whether Belichick would pull this off.

Offering a first-round draft pick is a heavy price for any player and is not something the head coach is probable to do. And adding Higgins now only gets him on a one-year rental, meaning Belichick would have to extend him right away to avoid giving up so much for a short-term solution.

Instead of risking it, there's always the chance that the Patriots could rely on Higgins becoming a free agent next year, if not franchise tagged. Since they are projected to have around $100 million (give or take some millions) in cap space for 2024, they will have plenty of cash to offer.

But because the urgency to succeed this season seems at the forefront of the Patriots goals, it would be wiser to go all in on Higgins now if that is something Belichick sees fit.