Franchise tag ends Patriots’ hopes of landing WR Tee Higgins

The dream of Tee Higgins signing with the New England Patriots in free agency came to an abrupt end on Friday night, after NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported the Cincinnati Bengals had informed the burgeoning star receiver they intend to use the franchise tag on him.

It’s no surprise considering there’s a win-now window clearly open in Cincinnati. Quarterback Joe Burrow will be healthy next season, and they’ll be looking to pair Higgins with Ja’Marr Chase for a possible Super Bowl run.

Even though it was expected, it still stings for the Patriots, who are in desperate need of a No. 1 wide receiver. Granted, there are other options still out there as pending free agents, and the 2024 NFL draft is swarming with potential studs.

But Higgins was clearly the most surefire option available, and now, he’s off the table.

The Patriots own the No. 3 pick of the draft, and some have advocated for them to take Ohio State receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., who just might be the best overall prospect on the entire draft board. Yet, there’s a glaring need at quarterback, and the thought of them running it back again with Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe is nauseating.

Of course, they could always sign another veteran quarterback or draft a rookie later on the board. The seemingly endless options don’t make the eventual decision any less scary.

Story originally appeared on Patriots Wire