Examining the Bengals' wide receiver depth after the first wave of free agency

Cincinnati Bengals Offseason Workout
Cincinnati Bengals Offseason Workout / Dylan Buell/GettyImages
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Solidified Starters: Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins

Ja'Marr Chase is the sole starter in the receiver room that fans can be 100 percent certain will return in 2024. No trade request, no expiring contract, and likely a record-setting extension on the horizon to keep Chase in black-and-orange for years to come. The LSU product is arguably a top five receiver in the entire league, arguably even top three, or higher. So Bengals' fans can find some solace in knowing that Chase will likely be in Stripes for the foreseeable future.

Now it's time to address the elephant in the room: Higgins. Will he be a Bengal in 2024? Well, no one knows quite yet for sure, but there's reason to believe that he will be.

This is less because Higgins himself wants to stay in Cincy (although he has already voiced his desire to remain a Bengal), and more so the front office's stubbornness when it comes to situations like these.

It seems for the past three off-seasons now the team has dealt with this sort of thing, and the conclusion has always been the same. In 2022, it was Jessie Bates who wanted a longer deal, only to be franchise-tagged. There was a little bit of drama, but Bates played in 2022 without issue before leaving for Atlanta the following off-season.

Then, in 2023, Jonah Williams requested a trade almost immediately following the Orlando Brown Jr. signing, but the Bengals stayed firm. Williams played the 2023 season in stripes before signing with the Cardinals in free agency this offseason And while the rumor mill has picked up as of late-- which is a given as Higgins is a much more sought-after player than Bates and especially Williams were-- this situation could turn out the same way.

Higgins will likely will play out the 2024 season with Cincinnati before signing somewhere else next spring. The Bengals don't typically give in to trade demands, the last time they did so was in 2020 with Carlos Dunlap, dealing him to the Seahawks-- and even then that took Dunlap listing his property up for sale on social media.

So, it's not a stretch at all to believe that Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, for the fourth year in a row, will be the Bengals' WR1 and WR2. Or, perhaps more fittingly, WR1a and WR1b.