Tee Higgins deal could be a lot easier for the Patriots than initially believed

Cincinnati Bengals v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Cincinnati Bengals v Tampa Bay Buccaneers / Douglas P. DeFelice/GettyImages

It's the same old story for the Patriots this offseason, as their search for a clear WR1 continues for who knows how many years in a row. They looked close to locking one up by extending a top-dollar offer to Calvin Ridley, but history repeated itself on Wednesday when the receiver chose to sign with the Titans instead.

With Ridley off the board, there are not many enticing receivers for the team to invest in, mainly because of the offense's needs. Guys like Odell Beckham Jr., Tyler Boyd, and Marquise Brown remain available and recently released Mike Williams is now a name in the mix. But none seem to be suitable replacements for the presumed production that a player like Ridley would've brought to the team.

So, the Patriots have two options: wait to draft a top receiver from the upcoming rookie class or start calling teams with players who have been rumored to be potentially available via trade.

That is how several teams have acquired top-name receivers in years past, like the Dolphins getting Tyreek Hill and the Eagles getting A.J. Brown, which might be the path the Patriots will need to follow, too.

In that case, the main receiver to call about remains Tee Higgins. The Bengals franchise-tagged him last week, and ahead of the official start of free agency, the receiver asked for a trade due to the lack of conversation regarding an extension.

Although Cincinnati claims Higgins will not be traded, they could avoid an ugly situation if he chooses to hold out by trading him. Fortunately for the Patriots, they might be in the perfect position to make a deal.

Tee Higgins deal could be a lot easier for the Patriots than initially believed

Because New England has been connected to Higgins for the past year, they were one of two teams that journalist Mina Kimes discussed on Monday's episode of NFL Live.

She believes both teams are in an excellent position to make a trade for Higgins because of where they pick in the second round of the draft. The Patriots hold the 34th overall pick, while the Panthers are just ahead of them with the 33rd.

“I would look at teams who are maybe either picking near the end of the first round, [or the] beginning of the second. Two teams that I really like in that regard are New England and Carolina.

Both teams with young quarterbacks — assuming New England spends that first pick on a rookie quarterback — who would be helped by having Tee Higgins as their number one wide receiver. [They are] teams that could draft a wide receiver with those picks, but I feel like because of the age of the quarterbacks and the build of the roster, and the fact that they both have cap space, they make sense as destinations for a receiver who has already proved that he can be a number one in the NFL.”

For most of last year, when Higgins was discussed as a possible trade target, the rumored cost was a first-round pick. If they have shifted from that and would take a second-round pick, which NFL insider Jordan Schultz believes might be the case, there's no reason for the Patriots not to be in on getting this done, especially since they will probably use their second-rounder on a receiver anyway.

So why not try to get a veteran with the pick instead?

Despite the incoming receiver class being touted as deep and talented, the draft is always a crapshoot and receivers can be especially hard to pick the right one. If New England plans to have a rookie quarterback under center at some point in 2024, providing him with a trusted veteran would put him in a much better position to be successful right away.

Of course, this will all depend on the Bengals' willingness to move on from Higgins, which they haven't been interested in until now.

That may change if negotiations on a contract extension continue to fall apart. The Patriots should be on the phone before that to inquire ahead of other teams because they really need a player like Higgins for their offense next year.

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