Drama Brewing Between Steelers Rival and Star WR

The Pittsburgh Steelers are watching one of their AFC North opponents slowly lose a star.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (5) and wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase (1) run to the outside for a plat in the first quarter of the NFL Week 17 game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Cincinnati Bengals at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (5) and wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase (1) run to the outside for a plat in the first quarter of the NFL Week 17 game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Cincinnati Bengals at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023. / Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY
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PITTSBURGH -- The AFC North might be getting a little easier for the Pittsburgh Steelers as they sit back and watch drama unfold between one of their biggest divisional opponents.

To this point, the story has been hammered in that the Cincinnati Bengals will not be trading wide receiver Tee Higgins. The 25-year-old is set to play under the franchise tag in 2024 but understandably wants a contract extension. With the team needing to extend Ja'Marr Chase as well, it doesn't appear likely a deal for Higgins will get done - and it's leading to problems.

As teams across the league hit the field for mandatory minicamp, including the Steelers and Bengals, Higgins was not on the field, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Chase was in attendance despite not receiving a contract extension.

This could signal difficult times for the Bengals. The team just signed Joe Burrow to an extension in 2023 and will almost definitely sign Chase to a deal after selecting him in the top 10. As for Higgins, despite two of his four seasons being over 1,000 yards, with a third hitting the 908-yard mark, he doesn't appear to be as high of a priority - or as likely of a signing - as his running mate.

The Steelers have been named a landing spot for Higgins if the Bengals decide to part ways this summer. The only issue would likely come down to compensation as Pittsburgh has not made a move for a star wideout that will require a massive extension and a first-round pick to receive.

If the price lowers, and Cincinnati somehow opens up to trading their WR2 within the division, Higgins would be viewed as an excellent match to work alongside George Pickens and Calvin Austin within the Steelers offense.

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Noah Strackbein

NOAH STRACKBEIN

Noah is the Publisher for All Steelers, Inside the Panthers (InsideThePanthers.com) and Inside the Penguins (InsidethePenguins.com), and is the host of All Steelers Talk (YouTube.com/AllSteelersTalk). A Scranton native, Noah made his way to the Pittsburgh sports scene in 2017. Now, he's pretty much full-yinzer.