Potential Steelers Target Signs Franchise Tag

A potential trade target for the Steelers signed his franchise tag.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (5) reacts after completing a catch in the fourth quarter during a Week 9 NFL football game between the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023, at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (5) reacts after completing a catch in the fourth quarter during a Week 9 NFL football game between the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023, at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati. / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY
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PITTSBURGH -- The wide receiver market isn't getting any easier to navigate for the Pittsburgh Steelers. While the team sees superstar potential in George Pickens, there isn't proven depth behind him. Roman Wilson has impressed throughout organized team activities and minicamp as well, but it isn't enough to prove he's ready to be a number two receiver in the NFL. Because of this, rumors are swirling that the Steelers will make a move for another receiver before the season begins.

One player the team won't be acquiring is Cincinnati Bengals' receiver, Tee Higgins. Since the contract dispute began in Cincinnati, the Steelers have been linked to Higgins. They were named a potential landing spot for the pass-catcher and some believed a trade would be worked out between the unlikely partners.

After speculation of a move carried on for a few months, the drama can end for now. After holding out of voluntary team activities, it was reported that Higgins would sign his franchise tender and report to training camp. NFL and ESPN insider Adam Schefter broke the news via X, which was quickly confirmed by the Bengal's beat reporter, Kelsey Conway.

The move is a huge boost for the Cincinnati Bengals, who bring back another dynamic receiver for Joe Burrow. This also means trouble for the Steelers and the rest of the AFC North, who will again have to find a way to stop the duo of Higgins and Jamar Chase this upcoming season. Higgins and the Bengals still have work to do on a long-term deal, but that's work for later.

Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, they won't be able to pry a playmaker away from their rival's hands. With Higgins signing his franchise tender, it takes him out of the running for the Steelers and takes the best potential trade target off the market. If the team wants to add another proven receiver, they may need to focus on a veteran like Courtland Sutton. Otherwise, they will likely head into the 2024 season with the current receiver room still needing improvements.

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Jacob Punturi

JACOB PUNTURI

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