Bengals helmet Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday, news broke that the Cincinnati Bengals had decided to use its franchise tag on star wide receiver Tee Higgins to keep him locked into Cincinnati for the 2024 NFL season. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that he will ultimately be playing for the Bengals this season.

NFL insider Ian Rapoport reported on Friday that the Cincinnati Bengals were using a franchise tag on him this offseason.

“Source: The #Bengals informed star WR Tee Higgins that they are franchising him,” Rapoport said in a post on X, the social media website formerly known as Twitter.

“The franchise tag number is expected to be around $21.8M, fully guaranteed, for the #Bengals and Tee Higgins. The first tagged player of this window,” Rapoport said in a follow-up post.

But even though the Bengals used their franchise tag on Higgins, many fans seem to think that the team will still look to trade him before the start of the 2024 NFL season in a sign-and-trade sort of deal.

Even if Higgins does remain with the Bengals for the 2024 NFL season, his long-term future with the team is very much in question after this year. We’ll have to see what Cincinnati chooses to do.

[Ian Rapoport]