Patriots-Tee Higgins rumors grow louder after huge NFL extension news

Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers
Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers / Justin K. Aller/GettyImages

If there was ever a sign for a team to trade for a receiver well ahead of the upcoming season, the Patriots just received their millionth one to make a move for Tee Higgins.

At this point, the Bengals receiver is looking like he's being held against his will in Cincinnati, as the team placed the franchise tag on him to start the offseason. Because they then didn't engage in extension talks, Higgins requested a trade, which he was denied.

He aired his grievances publicly, stating the team hadn't spoken to him about a new contract since last year. And when those conversations didn't pick up after the trade request, he demanded to be traded again in the week leading to the draft.

It reignited speculation that the Bengals might trade him during draft weekend, which piqued the interest of Patriots fans, who have had their hopes set on Higgins playing for New England over the last two years. But, much like the rest of the offseason, the receiver was refused a trade and remains on the roster for now.

Although no movement has been made regarding a new contract for Higgins, he is now the last franchised or transitioned-tagged player without a long-term deal. This update comes on the heels of the Bucs agreeing to an extension with Antoine Winfield Jr. on a four-year, $84.1 million contract.

It's now or never for the Patriots to get a Tee Higgins trade done

This should be even more reason for the Patriots to get on the phone about a Higgins trade. He's likely looking for any way out, and clearly, the Bengals don't want to keep him around long-term.

Although they're not on the same Championship path as the Bengals, he would instantly be paid and become the clear-cut WR1 of the offense.

That seems to be a driving force for him to want a trade. He was drafted a year before Ja'Marr Chase and had an impressive season. But once Chase arrived, he became the go-to receiver, pushing Higgins to the backburner.

He's continued to put up solid numbers and would be a WR1 on several teams in the league, which makes him a great fit in New England. Their receiving corps is much improved from a year ago, especially with Kendrick Bourne's re-signing, K.J. Osborn's arrival, and the drafting of Javon Baker and Ja'Lynn Polk.

However, most believe they still need a true game-changing number one guy, and Higgins would fit the bill. He might be their last chance to add that caliber of player before the 2024 season, and the longer they wait, the less chance they'll have to get a deal done before anyone else can swoop in.

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