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Bengals inform Tee Higgins that he’ll receive franchise tag

The Bengals will be keeping their top two receivers in the fold. For now.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, the Bengals have informed Tee Higgins that the franchise tag will be applied. The move will keep him from becoming an unrestricted free agent.

It will result in an offer of a one-year, fully-guaranteed contract worth $21.816 million. With the news coming before the start of the Scouting Combine, a clear message is sent to any teams interested in trying to recruit Higgins via the rampant tampering of Combine week — don’t bother.

The Bengals and Higgins will have until July 15 to negotiate a multi-year deal. With Higgins in line for a 20-percent raise if tagged again in 2025 ($26.18 million), Higgins reasonably should expect at least $48 million fully guaranteed at signing. If not, he should play on the tag and see if the Bengals tag him again in 2025.

The move comes at a time when receiver Ja’Marr Chase is eligible for, and wants, a major second contract. The real question is whether the Bengals can afford to keep both of them over the long haul.

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