Why Bengals' Tee Higgins plans to change his number after the 2021 NFL season

NFL Bengals American Football

The 2021 NFL season will be the last during which Tee Hig

gins wears No. 85.

The Bengals wide receiver announced on a recent episode of Pro Football Focus' "Fantasy Football Podcast" that he would be changing his number. Why? Because he's tired of being compared to legendary Bengals receiver Chad Johnson, who was affectionately known as "Ochocinco" during his playing days.

"I keep seeing on Twitter, 'Ochocinco 2.0,'" Higgins said, as transcribed by ESPN's Ben Baby. "I don't want to be a 2.0. No disrespect to Chad. He's a great receiver, this and that. I just don't want to be a 2.0 for myself, man. I want to be Tee Higgins, 1.0, No. 5."

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No. 5 is the jersey that Higgins wore while at Clemson. It makes sense for him to change to that number, which is now open to receivers thanks to the NFL's new uniform number policy.

That said, Higgins won't be making the change in-season. He would have to buy the remaining inventory of his No. 85 jerseys if he wanted to do that, which seems cost-prohibitive even for a man on a four-year, $8.5 million contract.

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Higgins also noted that changing his number would open the door for the No. 85 jersey to be retired by the Bengals.

"I just feel like Chad's done so much for this organization," Higgins said. "I just got a good feeling that his number is gonna get lifted one day."

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Johnson spent a decade with the Bengals from 2001 to 2010. He had seven 1,000-yard seasons during that span and was named to the AP's All-Pro first team twice. He is Cincinnati's all-time leader in receiving yards with 10,783 and receiving TDs with 65.

Higgins will have a long way to go before he reaches that territory, but he's off to a good start. The Bengals' second-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft has logged 71 catches for 966 yards and seven TDs in 17 career games.