Cincinnati Bengals fans have seen this story before when it comes to Tee Higgins and his contract situation. Two years ago, safety Jessie Bates III left Cincinnati after he and the Bengals couldn't come to terms on a long-term deal. The same thing appears to be playing out now with Higgins, who requested a trade earlier this offseason after the Bengals franchise-tagged him. 

Bates, who ultimately signed a long-term deal with the Falcons last offseason, recently weighed in on his old teammate's situation. 

"I've been through that process through the franchise tag," Bates said, via ESPN, "and I let it weigh on me a little bit more than I should have. It affected my play and how I was living my day-to-day life. So, my thing for Tee is, just work on your craft. It don't matter if this is the contract year. 

"I say it every time: Every year is a contract year. You should go out there and ball out and train like this is one of your last years to play."

Bates doesn't know what will happen with Higgins and the Bengals, who don't appear will make any attempts toward extending his contract this offseason. Bates is sure of one thing, though. 

"He'll be fine," Bates said of Higgins. "He'll get his payday."

Tee Higgins
CIN • WR • #5
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The Bengals are currently facing the challenge every team that has a high-paid quarterback faces. It's virtually impossible to keep all of your top-tier players, especially when your roster includes the league's highest-paid player in quarterback Joe Burrow. The Bengals also have to keep money aside for fellow wideout Ja'Marr Chase, whose fifth-year option was picked up for 2025. 

Something changed, though, between now and just before the start of the 2022 season, when Bengals owner Mike Brown said that re-signing Burrow and "the receivers" were among the team's top priorities. Burrow was taken care of last year, and it appears that Chase's deal will be handled sometime over the next year. 

What happened with Higgins? My guess is that Burrow and Chase asked for more than what the Bengals had initially bargained for, and the likely result is that Higgins will ultimately be the odd man out when his current contract expires. 

The good news for the Bengals is that Higgins is on board for another Super Bowl run in 2024. The team is also hoping that rookie Jermaine Burton shows enough this year to help make Higgins more expendable.