Packers GM deserves an apology after latest Tee Higgins drama

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Tee Higgins
Tee Higgins / David Eulitt/GettyImages

Part of what makes Brian Gutekunst a successful general manager is his willingness to make bold decisions while fully understanding the backlash he will receive.

Take the 2020 NFL Draft as the perfect example. The Green Bay Packers needed wide receiver help as they neared the end of the Aaron Rodgers era. With Justin Jefferson and Brandon Aiyuk off the board, many Packers fans hoped they would land Tee Higgins in the first round. Instead, Gutekunst famously traded up for Jordan Love.

Ever since, the Higgins and Love picks have been connected, much like how comparisons are still made between Kevin King and T.J. Watt. Criticism of Gutekunst's choice lasted for several years, but Love's breakout season has silenced many of the doubters.

Now, as the Packers prepare to make Love one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in football, Higgins faces an uncertain future with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Packers fans should be relieved they took Jordan Love over Tee Higgins

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Higgins and Ja'Marr Chase skipped the start of the Bengals' voluntary OTAs this week. Higgins wants a new long-term deal after the Bengals used the franchise tag to avoid losing him in free agency.

The Bengals are in a tough spot. Their top priority is to pay Chase, who has quickly become one of the best wide receivers in the NFL.

Higgins is an outstanding WR2 with two 1,000-yard seasons to his name, but he will want to be paid like a true WR1. If the Bengals do nothing, they will have to take on his fully guaranteed $21.82 million salary this season before likely losing him in free agency. But their decision to draft Jermaine Burton could suggest they are planning to move on.

The Packers should be thankful. There's no doubt that Higgins is an excellent player who could've helped this offense. But Gutekunst would've been in the same challenging situation as the Bengals. Despite Higgins' talent, is he good enough to become one of the highest-paid receivers in the league? He is averaging 921 receiving yards and six touchdowns per year.

Instead, the Packers have Love, who is their long-term future at quarterback. While there appears to be no imminent end to negotiations over a new deal, it will happen at some point this offseason.

Gutekunst received a lot of criticism for his decision, but it has paid off beautifully. The Packers found their next franchise quarterback and have built an outstanding young receiving corps.

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