Syndication: The Enquirer

Duke Tobin is a busy man this week at the NFL Combine. Along with scouting players for the upcoming draft, the Bengals general manager has also fielded questions regarding two of Cincinnati's best players: Tee Higgins and Joe Burrow

Both players are dealing with entirely different situations. Higgins was the NFL's first player to receive the franchise tag this offseason. Burrow is continuing to recover from last season's wrist injury that required surgery. 

As he did this time year ago, Tobin continues to express his desire to keep Higgins in a Bengals uniform. 

"Really simple. He's a good player," Tobin said of Smith, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. "We want to keep him. We have resources to do that. ... We're a better team with Tee."

Tee Higgins
CIN • WR • #5
REC YDs656
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It's safe to assume that Burrow also wants Higgins to stay in Cincinnati for the long haul. When it comes to Burrow's health, Tobin offered a positive update. 

"He's Joe. So, you know that he's 100% focused on that," Tobin said, via WLWT. "All reports that we've gotten have been very positive. We expect a full recovery and for him to continue being Joe."

Joe Burrow
CIN • QB • #9
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Bengals fans are hoping that 2024 goes better than the 2023 season for their team. Injuries largely plagued the 2023 Bengals, who managed to finish with a 9-8 record despite losing Burrow midway through their 10th game of the season. Cincinnati also dealt with several other notable injuries that included Higgins missing five games with rib and hamstring injuries. The Bengals were also without fellow wideout Ja'Marr Chase for a must-win game against the Steelers (a game they lost) with Chase dealing with a separated shoulder. 

Tagging Higgins keeps arguably the NFL's best offensive trio together for at least one more season. To keep the trio in Cincinnati beyond that, it would require the Bengals finding a way to re-sign both Higgins and Chase. Like Higgins, Chase is also playing on an expiring rookie deal, one that will undoubtedly be redone prior to the 2024 season. 

Fortunately for the Bengals, the NFL's increased salary cap should help them should they decide to re-sign both Higgins and Chase. The cap should only continue to climb next season after it increased by nearly $31 million for 2024. 

As for Burrow, Bengals fans should breathe a sigh of relief after hearing Tobin's update. While football is a team sport, perhaps only Patrick Mahomes is more valuable to his franchise than Burrow is to the Bengals. Cincinnati has won two division titles and an AFC crown since Burrow's arrival in 2020.