Trade requests add extra level of intrigue to 2024 NFL Draft for Bengals

2021 NFL Draft
2021 NFL Draft / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages

The annual NFL Draft is inherently interesting, but the 2024 draft will be especially interesting for the Cincinnati Bengals, who have a pair of pending trade requests from star players.

Fifth-year wide receiver Tee Higgins requested a trade away from the Bengals at the onset of free agency in March after failing to make any progress on a long-term extension with the team, and defensive end Trey Hendrickson followed suit just days before the draft. Like Higgins, Hendrickson was dismayed by the lack of progress on a long-term deal.

"Our No. 1 goal is to get a long-term commitment from them," Hendrickson's agent, Harold Lewis, said of the trade request. "If we can't, then we're asking for a trade. And hopefully if he gets traded, that's what we do -- get a long-term commitment with somewhere else."

So, that's two key contributors who have asked out this offseason. The question is, will their wishes be granted by the organization?

Will Higgins or Hendrickson be traded during the draft?

If -- I repeat -- if, the Bengals planned to trade Higgins and/or Hendrickson over the offseason, during the draft would probably be the time to do it, as they could then get draft capital in return that they could use as they so please. It's also the time on the league calendar when teams seem to be most willing to engage and take risks when it comes to making moves.

However, it doesn't seem like we should expect to see either player moved during the draft, at least based on the public messaging from the organization. The Bengals reportedly have no intention of moving on from Hendrickson, and they've basically said the same about Higgins.

“We’re excited for Tee to have a great year for us,” coach Zac Taylor said earlier this offseason. “We think he’s our best chance to help us win a Super Bowl. . . . I’ve enjoyed working with Tee the last four years and expect this year to be no different.”

Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin also made similar comments regarding Higgins' future with the franchise. Even Higgins himself admitted that he expects to remain in Cincinnati.

"I do anticipate it," Higgins said of playing for the Bengals next season. "I've grown a love for Cincinnati that I didn't think I would. [I'm] looking forward to it."

As a team with a franchise quarterback and legitimate Super Bowl aspirations, the Bengals are in a tough spot when it comes to trade requests, as they don't want to bleed too much established talent in exchange for unproven picks. But at the same time, a good front office always has to keep one eye on the future. In other words, be prepared for anything when it comes to Cincinnati's plans for the '24 draft.