AFC Notes: Tee Higgins, Odell Beckham, Bengals, Ravens, Steelers


Bengals GM Duke Tobin said they used the franchise tag on WR Tee Higgins because they feel like he benefits their offense. However, he wouldn’t elaborate on the possibility of trading him.

“The message is: We really like Tee, and we’re a better team with Tee,” Tobin said, via ProFootballTalk. “In terms of our intentions going forward, and answering hypotheticals of what could and couldn’t come about, I won’t get into that. But we feel like we’re a better team with him. The reason we franchised him is because we would like to have him. He’s not under contract, and it’s hard for me to predict all the different scenarios that could happen. But we feel strongly about Tee Higgins and his fit with us.”

Cincinnati currently has $48.7 million in available cap space. When asked if they could afford a long-term extension for Higgins, Tobin said they always want to keep “premier-type players” and sometimes deals come together. 

“It’s always a priority when you think about premier-type players and how long you want them,” Tobin said. “We work within the confines of the CBA [Collective Bargaining Agreement] like every other team does, and sometimes things come together on a long-term basis; sometimes they don’t. So, we use the resources we have, but we’re always thinking about the future of players and who’s coming up and who we want to have long-term relationships with. It’s a never-ending puzzle. Just when you put a piece in, someone reaches over and takes a piece out. So, we’re trying to fit more pieces in than they’re taking out.”

Tobin reiterated they wanted to keep good players like Higgins and quickly decided to use the tag on him.

“It’s really simple: He’s a good player. We want to keep him, and we have resources to do that, so we decided early to do it, and that’s where we are,” Tobin said. “We like Tee. We’re a better team with Tee. With the way that we’ve managed our cap, we had the ability to put the franchise tag on him, and we did.”


  • Ravens GM Eric DeCosta spoke on the increase in salary cap for 2024 but noted it doesn’t mean they’ll be one of the more aggressive teams in free agency. It does, however, give Baltimore some more flexibility. (Jeff Zrebiec)
  • In regards to WR Zay Flowers, DeCosta mentions the team will monitor his domestic assault situation as it unfolds. (Zrebiec)
  • DeCosta called RB Justice Hill an unsung hero, and he also thinks RB Keaton Mitchell will be a contributor next season. (Matt Verderame)
  • DeCosta is “not a huge fan” of the incoming RB draft class, and he’s still in talks with RBs Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins. (Verderame)
  • When it comes to WR Odell Beckham Jr.’s free agency, DeCosta said: “We’ve just texted. I love Odell. He’s become a great friend of mine and a friend to the Ravens. I think we’ll just kind of assess and see what happens over the next couple of weeks.” (Jamison Hensley)
  • DeCosta implied change is coming on the offensive line: “Obviously this year we’re going to have probably some change on the offensive line in different ways. Remains to be seen exactly what that looks like. We will have a plan.” (Hensley)
  • HC John Harbaugh mentioned the staff held a meeting the day after the AFC Title game to speak on where the offense is headed: “We want to do right by our players, and we want to do right by Lamar and build the best operation that we can for him so his talents can really shine. (Hensley)
  • Harbaugh had good things to say about WR Rashod Bateman: “I think Rashod Bateman‘s going to take a big step. I think Rashad’s going to get opportunities this year. He ran routes really well. He worked super hard.” (Hensley)
  • With the offensive line, Harbaugh made note of the potential changes entering the offseason: “So there’s going to be some rebuilding that’s going to have to be done in there and we are getting to it already. It’s probably the most important thing we do on offense.” (Hensley)


  • Clemson LB Jeremiah Trotter Jr. had a formal Combine interview with the Steelers. (Ray Fittipaldo)
  • Texas A&M LB Edgerrin Cooper had a formal Combine interview with Pittsburgh. (Ray Fittipaldo)
  • Clemson DT Ruke Orhohoro said he had a formal Combine interview with the Steelers. (Mike Kaye)
  • The Steelers had a formal Combine interview with Michigan LB Junior Colson. (Nick Farabaugh)

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