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


Other front offices from around the NFL are watching the Bengals with a lot of curiosity to see how they handle upcoming contract extensions for QB Joe Burrow and WRs Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. Keeping Burrow and Chase is a no-brainer, even if they set new records for salaries at their respective positions. What will be interesting to see is how they handle Higgins. The Bengals have said they plan for him to remain in Cincinnati but even $20 million a year might not be enough to lock him up. The average annual salary for all three could be in the neighborhood of $100 million each season. It’s doable but it means the Bengals will have to make sacrifices in other areas. 

“You can probably do it, but who are you going to lose?” a high-ranking league executive said via the Athletic’s Jeff Howe. “They’ve probably got some other players who are worthy of extensions, so you’re going to have to make a decision on where you’re going young and where you want to allocate all of those resources, especially at wide receiver because there’s only one football. So if you (extend) Higgins, is it going to cost you Tyler Boyd? Probably. The structure of your roster already cost you (TE) C.J. Uzomah to a certain extent. Trey Hendrickson has been an impactful pass rusher [but is a free agent after 2024]. You (lost safety) Jessie Bates. You can always keep those three players. Is it feasible? Yes, but it’s going to cost you somebody.”

The Bengals do things their own way, so there’s a good reason to believe them when they say they plan to keep Higgins. Conventional wisdom from other teams suggests they should do something different, however. 

“Higgins is good, but I think you let Higgins walk,” an assistant coach for another team said. “Honestly, you may want to try to trade him this year while there’s value and then go draft a young receiver. He’s really good in that system. He’s a good receiver, but I don’t think he’s so dynamic that you can’t replace his value or production. Chase is going to command so much more attention, that whoever is playing opposite of him is going to get favorable matchups.”


  • Ravens GM Eric DeCosta said they were the “underdog” to sign WR Odell Beckham Jr.: “We know we went in there being the underdog. We’re thrilled with what that means for our football team,” per Jamison Hensley. 
  • Although Beckham deferred to DeCosta and HC John Harbaugh when asked about Lamar Jackson, the receiver mentions it was his goal “to come here and have the possibility of playing with [Jackson],” via Jeff Zrebiec. 
  • Beckham reiterated that he expected Jackson to return to Baltimore: “My thoughts would be he would be here. … At the end of the day, it’s going to be up to them (Jackson and the Ravens leadership),” per Adam Beasley. 
  • DeCosta said he hasn’t spoken to Jackson since signing Beckham: “I’ve not talked to Lamar since the signing. There’s been interaction along the way. We’re hopeful still that we’ll get a long-term deal done. He’s the right player for this team,” per Andrew Siciliano. 
  • Beckham said he wanted to sign somewhere he felt wanted: “I’m in a place in my life where it means a lot more to be really wanted. … That was this situation. … They showed that they wanted me and see me as a piece to help them win.” (Beasley)


  • ESPN’s Matt Miller has heard the top two draft priorities for the Steelers will be cornerback and offensive tackle. Pittsburgh could take Penn State CB Joey Porter Jr. at No. 17 overall and Oklahoma OT Anton Harrison with the first pick of the second round at No. 32. 
  • Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline points out Steelers HC Mike Tomlin and Maryland CB Deonte Banks have had a good relationship for some time, so he’s an option in the first round. 
  • Pauline adds the Steelers are one of a number of teams he thinks would like to trade down and draft a center late in the first round. 
  • The Steelers hosted West Virginia WR Bryce Ford-Wheaton and Bowling Green DE Karl Brooks for top-30 visits, via Ray Fittipaldo. 

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