Bengals place franchise tag on WR Tee Higgins

Why the Bengals placed franchise tag on Tee Higgins (0:47)

Dan Graziano and the "NFL Live" crew break down the Bengals' decision to place the franchise tag on Tee Higgins. (0:47)

CINCINNATI -- The Bengals have made their first big decision of the offseason, placing the franchise tag on wide receiver Tee Higgins.

The move positions the Bengals to retain Higgins for at least one more season. Should the two sides fail to come to a long-term agreement before July 15, Higgins will be restricted to a one-year deal with the club worth $21.816 million, which is the leaguewide franchise tag amount for wide receivers in 2024.

The deadline for teams to use the franchise or transition tag is March 5.

Higgins, a second-round draft pick in 2020, was set to enter free agency after his rookie contract with Cincinnati expired. In his first four seasons with the team, he caught 257 passes for 3,684 yards and 24 touchdowns. In seven postseason games, he has 31 receptions for 457 yards and three touchdowns.

"Tee has done an outstanding job for us since we drafted him in 2020," Bengals coach Zac Taylor said in a statement. "I'm glad that he'll continue to be a big part of our offense and our team."

This is the second consecutive offseason when Higgins' long-term future with the club has been a topic of conversation. At last year's NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, Bengals executive Duke Tobin emphatically shot down a potential trade involving Higgins.

However, the two sides were unable to come to terms on a long-term extension before Higgins started the final season of his current deal. Higgins had an injury-plagued 2023 season that restricted him to 12 games. He totaled 42 receptions, 656 receiving yards and five touchdowns. Higgins has publicly and privately expressed his desire to remain in Cincinnati for multiple years. But that is just one high-priced part of Cincinnati's future projected offense.

In 2023, quarterback Joe Burrow signed a five-year contract extension worth $275 million, which set the NFL record for the highest annual average salary. Burrow's salary cap hit will be $46.3 million in 2025, according to Roster Management System.

Wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase is also poised to be one of the highest-paid players at his position. Chase has made the Pro Bowl in each of his first three NFL seasons, has set multiple franchise receiving records and is looking to earn a salary at the top of the market.

ESPN's Dan Graziano contributed to this report.