A franchise tag shouldn't stop the Tennessee Titans from pursuing Tee Higgins

Minnesota Vikings v Cincinnati Bengals
Minnesota Vikings v Cincinnati Bengals / Jeff Dean/GettyImages

New Tennessee Titans head coach Brian Callahan had a press conference on Wednesday to introduce his new coordinators, and it unofficially shifted the franchise into talent acquisition mode.

This week was the first time that the coaching staff and front office sat together and got to discuss the types of players that they want to bring in this offseason. While the entire roster needs to be examined and upgraded if possible, offensive tackle and wide receiver are going to be highlighted as the team's biggest need.

In a rare stroke of luck for the Titans, the 2024 NFL Draft is going to be loaded with talented offensive tackles and wide receivers. If Ran Carthon and Brian Callahan play it right, they could get a massive upgrade at both positions with their first and second-round picks.

However, the Tennessee Titans don't have to wait for the draft to fill those needs if they don't want to. The team is an Andre Dillard cut away from having the most cap space in the NFL, and they are going to have several opportunities to upgrade this roster in March.

Despite some pipe dreams from Tennessee Titans fans, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver, Tee Higgins, was never just going to fall into their lap in free agency. There are several reports out there saying that the Bengals are going to put the franchise tag on Tee Higgins to bring him back for one more season before they have to pay Ja'Marr Chase.

However, just because the Bengals aren't letting him hit the open market, it doesn't mean that he won't be available for the right price. Albert Breer believes that Higgins is one of the best candidates for a tag-and-trade situation this year.

"Of those, I’d say Higgins and (Brian) Burns could be tag-to-trade candidates. In
Burns’s case, it’s because he and the Panthers haven’t been close on a
long-term agreement over the last couple years. In Higgins’s case, it’s
because the Bengals have a bigger deal for
Ja’Marr Chase on the horizon."

The Tennessee Titans are the right team to trade for Tee Higgins

If I had to guess what it would cost the Tennessee Titans to land Higgins, I would say that the 38th pick in the draft would do it and the Titans would probably get a Day 3 pick back in the deal.

Higgins has never been the WR1 for the Cincinnati Bengals, and it is clear that they don't plan to pay him like one. With this trade, the Bengals would have the 18th, 39th, and 49th pick in the draft, and they could turn a one-year deal for Tee Higgins into $20 million in cap space and a talented draft class.

In the Tennessee Titans case, they would only have one top-100 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, but they would have six picks on Day 3. On top of that, they would have filled one of the biggest holes in their roster with a 25-year-old wide receiver who has had more yards over his first four seasons than Michael Pittman Jr., Deebo Samuel, and Mike Williams.

That means with the 7th pick in the draft, the Titans could go into "Joe Alt or bust" mode. If Alt falls into their lap, Tennessee gets a blue-chip left tackle and fixes two of their biggest issues with players who should be Pro Bowlers sooner rather than later. If he doesn't fall into their lap, then the Titans could trade down so that a team could jump ahead of the Atlanta Falcons to take a quarterback.

Detractors will say that the Tennessee Titans can't afford to trade away picks and that they need to rebuild the roster with young, cheap players, but they are wrong. A trade like this would yield immediate benefits and it would give Will Levis the support he needs to succeed right now.