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Tee Higgins is Poised for Breakout 2021 Season

There was a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver group during the offseason. They saw the best receiver in franchise history, A.J. Green, depart, which led them to drafting Ja’Marr Chase with the fifth overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Chase is getting all of the hype, and rightfully so, but Tee Higgins is the forgotten man in this receiver room.

All the talk surrounding the Bengals was that they need a true WR1, which implies Higgins cannot be that. Higgins had an outstanding rookie season, despite not being able to grow with Joe Burrow, due to Burrow getting injured in Week 11.

The wide receiver was utilized more often every week, and by the end of the season, he was the WR1. If Higgins had Burrow throwing to him instead of their second string QB, Brandon Allen, he could have exploded onto the scene. Now, with Chase and Tyler Boyd alongside Higgins, he will be able to flourish even more, with the pressure being on the other two receivers.

tee higgins bengals ja'marr chase
Credit: Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Tee Higgins’ Rookie Season

Higgins played in all 16 games as a rookie, and halfway through the year, he took over as the premier outside receiver on the roster. Green and John Ross struggled throughout the year, and it became clear that Higgins was their best option by Week 8.

He hauled in 67 catches on 108 targets for 908 receiving yards and six touchdowns. If Burrow could have stayed healthy, those numbers would be even better. Higgins and Burrow seemed to develop more chemistry every week, and now they will have a full offseason to grow together.

Higgins is 6-4, 215 pounds and is the quintessential red zone target. He is already a proven route runner, and as he continues to develop his quickness, he could easily grab 10 touchdowns in his second season.

Head coach Zac Taylor loves to throw the football, and as long as Burrow remains healthy, they will have an extremely productive passing attack. Chase will draw plenty of attention, as will Boyd out of the slot, which means opposing teams will throw their second or third-best corner on Higgins. He should be able to dominate that matchup on a weekly basis.

Last offseason and preseason were unique because of the pandemic, which caused them to learn everything virtually. Which means this year will be Higgins’ first true offseason, making his rookie campaign even more impressive with how effective he was.

Tee Higgins 2021 Expectations

Now that Burrow and Higgins have an established rapport, he is line for more targets. Receivers usually take their game to the next level in their second season, and Higgins is in line to do just that.

The biggest question surrounding Higgins was his speed and quickness. If he develops that, he can truly become an elite WR. At only 22 years old, he has plenty of time to grow and learn the position. All the reports from teammates and coaches are that Higgins looks great in OTAs, and this should set him up perfectly to have a dominant second season for the Bengals.


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