Proposed scenario might strengthen Patriots' pursuit of Tee Higgins

Miami Dolphins v Cincinnati Bengals
Miami Dolphins v Cincinnati Bengals / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

Now that the height of free agency is basically over, the Patriots are looking less and less likely to make a significant move ahead of the draft. It's not the plan most hoped they would go with due to the number of roster holes that need to be addressed and the bucketload of money they have available.

But for the most part, it's been a very underwhelming start to an offseason led by an entirely new regime.

One of the biggest problems they have avoided is improving the receiving corps. It has been the weakest part of the team for years and doesn't appear to be a priority for presumed GM Eliot Wolf so far. They have not made a big splash with the offense and haven't been interested in doing so, either.

It's not a recipe for success, which seems to contradict the new era in New England that Jerod Mayo has tried to sell us this offseason.

They were said to be in on Calvin Ridley and Keenan Allen, with one choosing to sign with the Titans instead and the Patriots refusing to give up a fourth-round pick to accomplish the trade for the other. And now their options have become even more limited regarding the remaining free-agent receivers to sign.

Hopefully, they're not completely out on trading for a game-changing offensive weapon, even if that's what it looks like right now, especially with the conversation surrounding what could change the Bengals' mind about trading Tee Higgins.

Proposed scenario might strengthen Patriots' pursuit of Tee Higgins

Despite Cincinnati placing the franchise tag on Higgins, the receiver requested a trade due to the lack of negotiations to get a contract extension done. That hasn't changed the team's mind about keeping him moving forward, but they may be forced to trade him eventually for a few reasons, one of which would be good news for the Patriots.

Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer discussed one scenario that could increase New England's chances of getting a deal done earlier this week, citing the Titans trade of A.J. Brown to the Eagles as the basis of his thought process.

"The Cincinnati Bengals really do intend to keep Higgins, at least for 2024, with their whole focus being on winning a Super Bowl. But it’s not hard to see how this could turn into an A.J. Brown situation, where the team gets an offer close to the draft that it can’t refuse. So my guess would be eventually Higgins gets dealt."

It could come down to being enticed by a haul for Higgins, or he could become increasingly frustrated and even decide to hold out, as others have done in the past. Both would likely lead to a trade, and the Patriots are well-equipped to do so this year.

There has been talk of an early second-rounder being a good value for Higgins, which the Patriots have with the 34th overall selection. They could package that with another player or more future picks to secure the much-needed WR1 ahead of the draft.

That might be too enticing for the Bengals to pass up, especially if extension talks with Higgins continue to fall flat. It would be better for them to trade him and receive something in return than see him walk in free agency for nothing in 2025.

Two issues will need to be ironed out before then, though.

Cincinnati will need to be fine with moving on from their former WR1, and New England will need to be good with giving up some draft capital to obtain the type of receiver that they have struggled to find for far too long.

Whether either team will reach that point is hard to say, but it might eventually get to a point where they will have to if they want to improve their team and situation before the 2024 season begins.

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