The national sports media outlet made bold suggestions to improve each NFL team this offseason.
Their suggestion for Cincinnati is certainly bold. In fact, it will probably infuriate Bengals fans.
ESPN thinks Cincy should trade wide receiver Tee Higgins (yep, that’s not going away even though Zac Taylor and Duke Tobin made it clear this week that trading Higgins isn’t an option).
Their logic is the same as everyone else’s logic when it comes to trading Higgins — the Bengals can’t afford to keep him longterm and they need to trade him for draft picks instead of losing him in free agency after the season.
The model is Kansas City, the team with whom the Bengals have slugged it out for AFC supremacy over the past two years. The Chiefs stayed on top after making the bold move of dealing Hill rather than pay him top dollar, with most of the savings allocated to paying Mahomes.
Cincy could easily do the same with Higgins, and he would return a fat haul in draft capital — maybe not quite what Miami gave up for Hill (a first, a second, two fourths and a sixth) but enough to keep the young talent assembly line running in Cincy, allowing the Bengals to further enjoy this golden era of competitiveness while maintaining cap flexibility.
Kansas City made a bold move and was rewarded with a Lombardi Trophy. Will Cincinnati be as intrepid? It may be the needed step to at last bring the franchise that elusive first championship.
Suggesting that Cincinnati should trade Higgins is one thing. There’s some logic in that suggestion that makes sense and is backed up by what we’ve seen from other NFL teams (including the Chiefs).
But suggesting that the Bengals will be rewarded with a Lombardi Trophy by trading Higgins is asinine.
If Cincy trades Higgins (the only way that’s happening, by the way, is if the Bengals franchise tag Higgins next offseason and then trade him, a la the Packers with Davante Adams), it won’t make the Bengals a better team in 2023.
Dealing Higgins would negatively impact the Bengals’ depth and it would take away some important protection for Ja’Marr Chase (it’s tough to double Chase when Higgins is on the field).
The Chiefs were in a different situation with Hill — he wanted to be traded. Kansas City was forced to adapt and they’re fortunate that it worked out. Trading Hill isn’t what “put the Chiefs over the top”. Instead, it was a speed bump that Kansas City had to deal with.
Cincinnati’s best chance to win a Super Bowl is with Higgins and Chase on the field together. There’s just no way that moving Higgins in a trade this offseason makes the Bengals a better team.
I can respect the boldness of ESPN’s suggestion, but this one might be a little too bold.