Getty Images

If he gets his way, Tee Higgins will be playing his football somewhere other than Cincinnati next season. The Bengals wideout has requested a trade, according to CBS Sports lead NFL insider Jonathan Jones, because the team has not had any discussion with him about a long-term contract extension.

The Bengals placed the franchise tag on Higgins ahead of the start of free agency. He is set to make $21.8 million on the tag, but of course, that provides him with only a one-year deal. 

Selected near the top of the second round in the same draft where the Bengals landed franchise quarterback Joe Burrow, Higgins was at first the top target for the Pro Bowl quarterback and then later the No. 2 pass-catcher behind Ja'Marr Chase. He's caught 257 passes for 3,684 yards and 24 touchdowns in his four NFL seasons, with his best years coming in 2021 and 2022, when he racked up 74 catches for over 1,000 yards in each season, along with a total of 13 touchdowns. He struggled with injuries and inefficiency in 2023, but at 25 years old, his best football should still be ahead of him.

Any team looking for wide receiver help would presumably be interested in his services, as he has shown an ability to be a top-flight option in a top-flight passing game. The Bengals are of course not required to trade Higgins despite the request, but deals often come to fruition for players in similar situations. 

Non-Bengals teams are allowed to contact Higgins starting Wednesday, and when he gets an idea of what his market could have been, he might be even more upset about receiving the tag. Another team can sign him and send two first-round picks to the Bengals in return, or Cincinnati could work out a deal for a different level of compensation. 

If he finds the trade he wants, Higgins will also likely land a significant long-term contract near the top of the market, which could affect future extension talks for players like Chase, CeeDee Lamb, Justin Jefferson and Brandon Aiyuk throughout this offseason.

Here's a look at some potential landing spots for Higgins this offseason (in alphabetical order).

Arizona Cardinals

Arizona has the opportunity to add a receiver with the No. 4 overall pick in next month's draft, but also probably needs more than one additional weapon to lift the offense -- especially with Marquise Brown hitting free agency. If the Cardinals wanted to pair Higgins with a high pick, they would suddenly have three quality options for Kyler Murray, when also accounting or tight end Trey McBride. The Cards have $56.6 million in cap space heading into free agency, according to Over the Cap, so they have plenty of room to make this type of move. 

Atlanta Falcons

This really only works if the Falcons are not the team to land Kirk Cousins in free agency, because otherwise, they probably don't have the requisite money to give Higgins the type of deal he wants. But they have shown a willingness to pursue high-end skill players in selecting Kyle Pitts, Drake London and Bijan Robinson in the last three drafts, and adding Higgins to that group would give a young quarterback a strong group around him that could help lift his performance during the early part of his career under head coach Raheem Morris and offensive coordinator Zac Robinson

Carolina Panthers

The pass-catchers the Panthers gave No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young last year were an entirely insufficient group. They desperately need to upgrade the talent around him, and Higgins is likely the best option available this offseason. New head coach Dave Canales had success in Tampa working with a big-bodied perimeter wide receiver in Mike Evans (and a smaller quarterback throwing to him in Baker Mayfield), and the Panthers could look to replicate that success by dealing for Higgins. 

Chicago Bears

Chicago already brought in D.J. Moore last offseason and has a chance to add another receiver with the No. 9 overall pick this year (after presumably taking a quarterback at No. 1), but with all the cap space the Bears have ($62.7 million, according to Over the Cap), they could really turn the position group into a major strength by adding Higgins to the mix as well. Giving Caleb Williams, Drake Maybe or Jayden Daniels that type of weaponry early in their career would do wonders for that players development -- especially if the Bears can find a way to further solidify the offensive line with their other resources. 

Houston Texans

Houston had one of the NFL's most surprisingly efficient and explosive offenses last season, and adding Higgins could take it to another level. The Texans already have a strong one-two punch with Nico Collins (who is also extension-eligible this offseason) and Tank Dell, but replacing ancillary targets like Noah Brown and Robert Woods with someone like Higgins would only further fuel star quarterback C.J. Stroud's rise. The Texans have other, more pressing needs than wide receiver, but they also have an absolute ton of money to play with this offseason. (They are down a first-round pick thanks to the trade-up for Will Anderson Jr. last year, but they've got plenty of draft capital thanks to the Deshaun Watson to Cleveland deal.)

Indianapolis Colts

Indy already franchise-tagged Michael Pittman, and still has both Alec Pierce and Josh Downs behind him. But why not pair the two big-bodied receivers from the 2019 draft together and really supercharge the pass-catching group around quarterback Anthony Richardson? The Colts don't have quite as much cap room as some other teams on this list ($49.2 million), but if they wanted to, they could probably make something like this work.

New England Patriots

The next four teams on this list are perhaps the most wide receiver-needy in the entire league. The pass-catching group during the final years of the Bill Belichick era was practically destitute. The Patriots' top wideout right now is probably Kendrick Bourne, who is coming off a torn ACL. The Pats will not want to saddle their next quarterback with the same deficient wideout corps that they gave the recently traded Mac Jones, and adding Higgins would obviously serve as a major upgrade to the unit. 

New York Giants

The first year of the Giants' effort to upgrade the talent around Daniel Jones was not exactly a success. The Giants had one of the least-imposing groups of pass-catchers in the NFL last season, and Jones regressed badly. Adding Higgins would be a way to both potentially (partially, at least) salvage what looks like a very bad contract they gave to Jones, but also to give some defined structure to a receiving corps that didn't have an obvious top target last year and also might still lose Darren Waller, who is reportedly considering retirement. 

New York Jets

The Jets spent last offseason signing a bunch of Aaron Rodgers' friends to work alongside Garrett Wilson IV in their receiving corps. Rodgers, of course, lasted only four snaps, but the returns on those signings nonetheless left a lot to be desired. The Jets do not have much in the way of cap room at the moment, but the cap can always be massaged if a team is really motivated to add a specific player. 

Tennessee Titans

Pairing DeAndre Hopkins on one side with Higgins on the other, then using their No. 7 overall pick to upgrade the offensive line, would be a very strong way to make sure Will Levis has the help he needs early in his tenure under center. And it certainly doesn't hurt that new head coach Brian Callahan came to Tennessee by way of Cincinnati, where he served as the offensive coordinator under Zac Taylor. We don't have to guess at how he'd utilize Higgins; we already know. And the Titans have more than enough cap room ($76.5 million) to get something like this done. 

Washington Commanders

No team has more cap space than the Commanders, who begin the Dan Quinn era with $91.5 million to spend. They are considered highly likely to draft a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick, and giving that player Higgins and Terry McLaurin as his top two wideouts would go a long way toward ensuring that he has the infrastructure necessary to find early success.