The time has come for the Cleveland Browns to look to the offseason, and the wide receiver room should be among the franchise’s top priorities.
Amari Cooper is entering the final year of his contract in 2024, and Elijah Moore is the best of the rest currently on the roster. Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report on Saturday, January 13, noted a handful of big-time free agents the Browns are likely to target if they can sort out their salary cap situation to make such a move feasible. The first name on the list belongs to Tee Higgins of the Cincinnati Bengals.
“The Browns could also use a reliable perimeter receiver opposite Amari Cooper, though they probably won’t have the capital to chase one of the top names on the market,” Knox wrote. “If that changes, though, wideouts like Tee Higgins, Michael Pittman Jr. and Calvin Ridley should be near the top of Cleveland’s wish list.”
Higgins, the No. 2 receiver behind Ja’Marr Chase for the rival Bengals, played out the fourth and final year on his $8.7 million rookie contract in 2023. Spotrac projects his market value at $74.4 million ($18.6 million annually) over a new four-year deal.
That’s big cash for a guy who hasn’t been the top option on his own team for the last three season. However, Higgins has been exceptionally productive since entering the league as an early second-round pick (No. 33 overall) in 2020.
Higgins put up more than 1,000 yards in 2021 and 2022 following a rookie campaign in which he gained 908 receiving yards, per Pro Football Reference. The wideout had the least productive year of his career this season with only 42 catches for 656 yards.
However, Higgins was limited significantly by injuries that kept him sidelined for five full games. As a result, he finished the year with only 76 targets after averaging 109 targets through the first three years of his career. Higgins caught 5 TDs in 2023 and has hauled in 24 total touchdowns across 58 games played.Stealing Higgins from Cincinnati in free agency would clearly bolster the Browns’ offense while also taking a bite out of the Bengals’ potent offensive attack. In addition, Higgins would unquestionably help Deshaun Watson become the quarterback Cleveland thought it was signing when the franchise offered the QB $230 million fullyguaranteed ahead of the 2022 campaign.
Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski confirmed on Sunday that Watson will be the team’s starter heading into the offseason and not Joe Flacco, who led the team to a 4-1 record down the stretch and a playoff berth in Super Wild Card Weekend.