Could Jets realistically pursue WR Tee Higgins in a trade?

The New York Jets are in need of help at the wide receiver position, and the Cincinnati BengalsTee Higgins has reportedly requested a trade. While adding Higgins to the Jets’ receiver room would provide a major boost, how realistic is it?

Higgins was set to be a free agent this offseason, but the Bengals placed the franchise tag on him. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Higgins loves Cincinnati and was hoping to strike a long-term deal with the Bengals. However, he is disappointed that the team hasn’t had any talks about a long-term extension with him since March of 2023.

Higgins produced a 1,400 yard season in 2021 with the Bengals and then 1,177 yards in 2022, catching nearly 70 percent of his targets and totaling 16 touchdowns during that span. This past year, as the Bengals experienced up and down quarterback play with Joe Burrow sidelined, Higgins caught 57 percent of his 74 targets and averaged 15.6 yards per catch with five touchdowns.

The return of Aaron Rodgers under center on its own will help turn the Jets’ passing game around. But what this offense also needs is a reliable secondary target alongside of Garrett Wilson, which will help take some of the burden off of Wilson while also opening up opportunities elsewhere in the passing game for Rodgers.

Although Wilson was able to eclipse the 1,000 yard mark in 2023, the Jets’ second leading receiver was Allen Lazard at 311 yards, and then Xavier Gipson at 229 yards.

“We’ve got some great young guys,” said Wilson via The Athletic, “we’ve got some great vets,” he said. “I think another infusion of someone that brought different things to the table that gives the defense something to worry about, that would be beneficial to everyone, not just me.”

From a pure football standpoint, why wouldn’t the Jets make this move? Receiver is a major need and this is a team with Super Bowl aspirations, which the addition of Higgins would certainly help with that cause.

However, as we all know, there are other factors at play, specifically the cost to both acquire and keep Higgins.

The Bengals are going to be looking to get a premium draft pick in return for Higgins and likely for this year’s draft—not next. The Jets, however, don’t have much in terms of premium draft capital available, ranking 22nd in draft capital value by Tankathon, with only the 10th and 72nd overall picks in the top 100.

For what it’s worth, this also happens to be a loaded wide receiver draft class, and as we’ve seen, especially in recent years, high end wide receiver talent is coming in and making an immediate impact right away.

In addition to that, if the Jets were to acquire Higgins, they’d then have to sign him to a new contract, which could be north of over $20 million per year. In terms of available cap space this offseason, the Jets are sitting okay with $20.7 million available, but relatively speaking, that is the 18th most in the NFL.

Although the receiver position is a big need, addressing the offensive line, where realistically there are three starting spots available, is priority No. 1 for the Jets. Investing at least $20 million per year at a different position then limits what the Jets have available to spend elsewhere, specifically in the trenches.

The Bengals have been in a somewhat similar situation before, as noted by The Athletic. After franchise tagging Jessie Bates, while he didn’t formally demand a trade, he did not report for training camp. Last year, Jonah Williams requested a trade after Orlando Brown Jr. was signed but Williams ended up showing up for training camp and playing out his fifth-year option.

“That’s a problem in this situation,” wrote Paul Dehner of The Athletic. “They (Cincinnati) have never been willing trade partners, so the idea of pulling one off here is increasingly difficult when teams have many other options. Cincinnati wants to play the 2024 season with Higgins, that’s what matters most to it.”

Without question, adding Higgins to the Jets’ offense would be a valuable move, and as part of Joe Douglas doing his due diligence, he should at the very least make a call to see what it might take to land the receiver.

Ultimately, if the Jets wanted to make this trade, they could find a way to do so. But as always, there is give and take and pulling this move off would limit the Jets elsewhere from a roster building standpoint. So for the reasons mentioned, this is not a move I would anticipate happening. The Jets will have to address the receiver position elsewhere.

Story originally appeared on Jets Wire