The Cincinnati Bengals have an unusual problem in 2021. They have too many quality wide receivers on their roster.
While this “problem” only elicits others to play the world’s smallest violin for Cincinnati, it means many of the Bengals’ promising wideouts won’t get much playing time this year.
With the big three of Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, and Ja’Marr Chase, Auden Tate will likely be the solid No. 4 receiver to make the roster, and we’ve written about him breaking into the starting lineup this season (very improbable, but still possible).
The rest of Cincinnati’s wide receiver depth chart remains uncertain. Super competitive, but still uncertain.
Similar to Tate, Trent Taylor has been waiting in the wings for his breakout season.
In his rookie year in 2017, Taylor recorded 430 yards and two touchdowns on 43 receptions, but he’s since experienced some setbacks due to injuries and missed the entire 2019 season. In 2020, Taylor showed flashes of his old self with 10 catches for 86 yards in 12 games, and since training camp he’s been nothing but a pleasant surprise.
With his punt-returning experience, he could get minutes on special teams, but you can bet he’s gunning for a receiver spot.
Cincinnati Bengals have stacked wide receiver room in 2021
Taylor will compete with Trenton Irwin, Mike Thomas, and Stanley Morgan, all of whom have similar chances of making the roster. Irwin had an impressive training camp as well and was the team’s leader in receiving yards in the Bengals’ first preseason game against the Bucs (three catches for 35 yards on five targets).
Mike Thomas also did well that game, recording two catches for 32 yards on three targets. Thomas joined Cincinnati last season, playing in 229 offensive snaps and 70 special teams snaps. As a receiver, he caught 13 passes for 132 yards and a touchdown and got decent usage overall despite ranking pretty low on the wideout depth chart.
Stanley Morgan is the most experienced special teams player of the pack, playing 291 special teams snaps for Cincinnati in the past two years. That may give him an edge to make the roster since Morgan’s not exactly competing to be Ja’Marr Chase’s backup.
Given the wealth of wide receiver talent on the roster, it seems like the Bengals can’t really go wrong with whoever they pick come season time.
In each of the past two seasons, Cincinnati has kept seven receivers on the roster and will likely do so this year, with a healthy Joe Burrow at the helm and their pass-happy offense starting to mesh again.
This is typically a good sign to start the season – having too many good players in one position – but the Bengals have their flaws, too. Wide receiver just isn’t one of them.