The New England Patriots have to find some impact wide receivers this offseason, whether that be through the NFL Draft or with their plentiful cap space in free agency.

Unfortunately for the Patriots, one potential target is off the board.

The Cincinnati Bengals are franchise-tagging wide receiver Tee Higgins as he was told on Friday, per NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport.

This was the likely scenario for Higgins, who has emerged as an upper-echelon wideout in the NFL. He may be the No. 2 option on the Bengals behind Ja’Marr Chase, but that takes nothing away from the playmaking abilities of the Clemson product.

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In addition to scoring a pair of touchdowns in Super Bowl LVI, Higgins posted a pair of 1,000-yard seasons for the Bengals while tallying 24 touchdowns in his first four NFL seasons. For now, Higgins is staying put with Joe Burrow in Cincinnati for a team that is surely still an AFC contender with a healthy squad.

As for the Patriots, New England will have to see what the immediate future holds for veterans such as Mike Evans and Michael Pittman Jr.

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The Patriots will also have several upgrade candidates at wideout in a deep draft class at the position. Whoever the new quarterback will be for the Patriots next fall, New England has to do the work to put talent around them, particularly at receiver.

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The league year opens on March 13 to kick off free agency before the NFL Draft begins on April 25.

Featured image via Katie Stratman/USA TODAY Sports Images