Report: Bengals' offer to Tee Higgins "never approached" $20 million a year

Tee Higgins wants a long-term deal or a trade. Neither seems likely.

Instead, as the Bengals' receiver conceded two weeks ago, he's likely to play in Cincinnati this season on the franchise tag. He then would become a free agent in 2025.

Kelsey Conway of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports the Bengals' offer to Higgins "never approached" the $20 million per year range. The offer wasn't close enough to get Higgins' representation to discuss guaranteed money, per Conway, so the sides haven't negotiated in more than a year.

Higgins is scheduled to make $21.8 million on the one-year, fully guaranteed franchise tag. That should be the starting point in negotiations.

Eighteen receivers make more than $20 million a season.

Higgins wants something in the range of what the Colts gave receiver Michael Pittman, what the Commanders gave Terry McLaurin and what the 49ers gave Deebo Samuel, according to Conway. Pittman recently signed a three-year, $70 million deal, with an annual average of $23.33 million. McLaurin makes $23.2 million a year and Samuel mads $23.85 million a season.

Bengals coach Zac Taylor recently said the team is excited for Higgins to play for them this season.

"We’re excited for Tee to have a great year for us," Taylor said. "We think he’s our best chance to help us win a Super Bowl. I’ve enjoyed working with Tee the last four years. I expect this year to be no different.”

Higgins, 25, played 12 games last season, missing four games with a fractured rib and then Week 18 with a hamstring issue. He caught 42 passes for 656 yards and five touchdowns, all career lows.

Higgins had 1,000-yard seasons in 2021 and 2022 and has 257 catches for 3,684 yards and 24 touchdowns in his four seasons in Cincinnati, which made him a second-round pick in 2020.