The Detroit Lions have done a terrific job of filling their roster with talented players the past couple years. The consensus, though, is the team still needs depth at wide receiver.
That was the narrative around the Lions for the entire offseason, and it remains the case early in the regular season. For that reason, rumors have swirled about possible additions Detroit could make at wideout.
Add Cincinnati Bengals receiver Tee Higgins to the list of possibilities.
Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine listed the Lions as one of six teams that should pursue a trade for Higgins.
“Pairing [Amon-Ra] St. Brown with Higgins would give the Lions one of the best receiver tandems in the league,” Ballentine wrote. “Placed in the hands of [offensive coordinator Ben] Johnson, the Lions would have a dynamic offense.
“St. Brown’s precise route running and ability to dominate the underneath and intermediate areas of the field paired with Higgins’ vertical game would give the Lions everything they need to have a top passing game.”
Higgins didn’t have a reception in Week 1, but he is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons for the Bengals. He also had 908 receiving yards as a rookie in 2020.
Bengals WR Tee Higgins On the Trade Block?
Higgins is already a part of a dynamic receiving duo with Ja’Marr Chase in Cincinnati. But Higgins is set to be a free agent in March, and The Cincinnati Enquirer’s Kelsey Conway reported on September 8 that the 24-year-old is “not believed to be in the Bengals’ future plans.”
“The Cincinnati Bengals and wide receiver Tee Higgins are not close and never got close on a contract extension,” wrote Conway.
For that reason, rumors that the Bengals could trade Higgins before the NFL trade deadline have begun heating up.
He could certainty help a contender, and in return, Cincinnati would recoup a draft pick rather than letting Higgins simply walk in free agency. Ballentine projected the Bengals to receive at least a first-round pick in a trade for Higgins.
But, how the beginning of Cincinnati’s season goes could impact Higgins’ availability a lot more than the offered compensation.
The Bengals are expected to be Super Bowl contenders themselves. Even if it means giving up the opportunity for draft picks, Cincinnati could want to keep Higgins if it’s again in the Super Bowl conversation.
How Higgins Could Fit With the Lions
Should the Bengals fall out of contention or elect to sell Higgins to the highest bidder anyway, the Lions should be interested. As Ballentine detailed, St. Brown and Higgins would likely be a dynamic duo because of how much they could compliment each other.
With St. Brown eating up defenses in the slot and over the middle of the field, Higgins could make splash plays on deep passes and attempts down the sidelines.
Higgins stands at 6-foot-4 and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.54 seconds at his Pro Day. That skillset has resulted in a 14.1 yards per catch average to begin his career.
His big-play ability is arguably the last missing piece for Detroit’s offense. It’s a role the Lions want second-year receiver Jameson Williams to fill, but Williams is suspended for the first six games of 2023.
While Williams is extremely talented on paper, he’s an inexperienced, unproven commodity. Ballentine argued that if the Lions are serious about a run at the Super Bowl this season, they will pursue a trade for a receiver like Higgins.
“Trading for Higgins would declare they are all-in on winning right now,” Ballentine wrote. “It would also supercharge an offense that is already sixth in EPA per play going back to last season.”
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