Bengals' Duke Tobin shuts down 'ridiculous' Tee Higgins trade rumors

Patriots can cross Tee Higgins off their offseason wish list originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

If you've been picturing Tee Higgins as a No. 1 wide receiver option for the New England Patriots, keep dreaming.

Despite Higgins being the subject of trade rumors this offseason, the Cincinnati Bengals aren't interested in parting ways with their star wideout. Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin made that clear during a press conference at the NFL Scouting Combine.

"I'm in the business of making the Cincinnati Bengals better. And so, trading Tee Higgins is not on my mind," Tobin told reporters on Tuesday. "That's their problem. If they want a receiver, go find your own. In my opinion, Tee Higgins is a good piece for the Cincinnati Bengals, so the trade stuff is a little ridiculous right now."

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Higgins, 24, is entering the final year of his rookie contract. His expiring deal made his name an intriguing one for teams looking for wide receiver help as it was unclear whether the Bengals would be willing to give him a lucrative extension. Judging by Tobin's comments, keeping Higgins around will be one of the team's top priorities.

So if Higgins is off the table, which other receivers could the Patriots target this offseason?

JuJu Smith-Schuster and Allen Lazard are the top wideouts set to hit free agency along with the Patriots' own receiver Jakobi Meyers. If New England prefers the trade route, Jerry Jeudy of the Denver Broncos and DeAndre Hopkins of the Arizona Cardinals are possibilities.

Whether it's via free agency, trade, or the NFL Draft, the Patriots need to address the wide receiver position ahead of the 2023 campaign. DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne and Tyquan Thornton currently reside at the top of their WR depth chart.