The Patriots have a ton of money, and they have a need at receiver. With NFL free agency set to begin, it’s realistic to expect they could make a splash at the position.

What if, though, that splash instead comes through a trade with, say, Tee Higgins coming to New England?

The Cincinnati Bengals reciever has requested a trade, according to multiple reports Monday, just hours ahead of the free agency tampering period. ESPN’s Adam Schefter was the first to report Higgins is asking out from the only team for which he’s played.

The Bengals used the franchise tag on Higgins in late February, locking him in for the 2024 season at the $21.8 million salary designated for wide receivers. That came after the two sides were unable to work out a contract extension, and the hope for those who wanted Higgins to remain with the Bengals was that they could eventually work out a longer deal.

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It appears that isn’t the case. Higgins, according to Schefter, hoped to stay with the Bengals and was upset no talks about a long-term extension materialized, leading to his reported request.

As for how this could affect the Patriots, there have been no shortage of reports indicating New England wants to upgrade at receiver. Higgins, who had consecutive 74-catch seasons before an injury-plagued 2023 campaign, would fit that bill. Cincinnati took Higgins with the 33rd pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, and he has been a very solid weapon for Joe Burrow, settling in nicely as the No. 2 wideout behind Ja’Marr Chase in Cincinnati.

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Ultimately, it will come down to price, which will be dictated by demand. If the price is a first-round pick, that might be a little too steep for a Patriots team that probably should be prioritizing multiple assets over just one big splash. That being said, their second-round pick this year (No. 34) is just outside the first round and could certainly be attractive in trade talks with the Bengals.

The Patriots could be on the way to building a decent arsenal of pass-catchers. New England reportedly re-signed receiver Kendrick Bourne and tight end Hunter Henry over the weekend, two players who have performed well when not injured or saddled with woeful quarterback play. Adding Higgins to that mix while also hitting on the next quarterback — whoever that is — would go a long way in the Patriots’ hitting on this rebuild.

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