5 Most Important Patriots Free Agent Targets in 2024

Dec 23, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (5) at
Dec 23, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (5) at / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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1. Tee Higgins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

Tee Higgins, a former 33rd overall pick, just wrapped up his fourth NFL season with the Cincinnati Bengals. He recorded career lows in nearly every statistical category, but this can be attributed to his absence from five games as he battled through a rib and recurring hamstring injury.

In 58 career games, Higgins has recorded 257 catches for 3684 yards and 24 touchdowns, averaging 4.4 receptions per game and 63.5 yards/game. He has eclipsed the 1,000-yard receiving mark twice in his career, something that no Patriots receiver has done since Julian Edelman in 2019.

The Patriots' offensive production was embarrassing in 2023, so why not go out and get the best offensive talent available? Last season, New England's wide receivers combined for five touchdown catches as a unit. Higgins had five by himself in only 12 games. The former national champion at Clemson is CBS Sports' fourth-highest rated free agent for this upcoming period, and is the second-highest ranked offensive player, only behind quarterback Kirk Cousins.

During Super Bowl week, Higgins, a native of Oak Ridge, Tenn., discussed the possibility of going to play for his hometown Titans. Higgins also noted Tennessee's hiring of former Bengals' offensive coordinator Brian Callahan as their new head coach, so the Titans are undoubtedly a team to keep an eye on.

It is worth noting that the Bengals could franchise tag Higgins between Feb. 20 and March 5. If Higgins were to be franchised tagged, the amount is projected to land a little over $21 million. Meanwhile, Spotrac estimates that Higgins' free agency contract would land around four years and $66.3 million ($16.5 million average annual value), so from a strictly financial standpoint, being franchise tagged wouldn't be the worst outcome for the 25-year-old. The Patriots will likely have to overpay as well to poach the receiver away from catching passes from Joe Burrow to catching passes from a quarterback to be named later in New England.

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