Position group breakdown: A closer look at Bengals’ wide receivers

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

The “Big Three,” as the Cincinnati Bengals knew them, aren’t together anymore with the departure of Tyler Boyd, but there’s still plenty of buzz around the receiving corps Joe Burrow will be targeting this season.

Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins are back and joined by third-round draft pick Jermaine Burton, as well as Trenton Irwin and 2023 draft pick Charlie Jones and Andrei Iosivas. The Bengals also improved the tight end room with the addition of Mike Gesicki.

Let’s take a look at the past performances of the Bengals’ wide receivers and tight ends, and how they are expected to stack up in 2024 with help from some analysis and data from Pro Football Focus.

This is the third in a series of pieces breaking down each position group for the Bengals. Next up: Offensive line.


Starters: Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Trenton Irwin

Backups: Jermaine Burton, Charlie Jones, Andrei Iosivas

Others in the mix: Cole Burgess, Shedrick Jackson, Kwamie Lassiter II, Tre Mosley, Kendric Pryor


2023 stats: 1,216 yards, 7 TDs on 100 catches and 145 targets (12.2 yards per reception)

PFF grades for 2023: Chase ranked 13th of 128 qualifying wide receivers with an 85.3 overall grade. He was also 13th of 126 wide receivers in receiving grade at 86.7.

PFF ranking for 2024: Chase was third of 32 wide receivers ranked by PFF going into 2024.


2023 stats: 656 yards, 5 TDs on 42 catches and 76 targets (15.6 yards per reception)

PFF grades for 2023: Higgins ranked 45th of 128 qualifying wide receivers with an overall grade of 72.1 and 50th of 126 wide receivers in receiving grade at 70.9.

PFF ranking for 2024: Higgins ranks as the 32nd best wide receiver in the league, the last guy to make the list.


2023 stats: 316 yards, 1 TD on 25 catches and 32 targets (12.6 yards per catch)

PFF grades for 2023: Irwin ranked 100th of 128 qualifying wide receivers with an overall grade of 57.0 and 87th of 126 wide receivers in receiving grade at 60.8.

PFF ranking for 2024: N/A


Starter: Mike Gesicki

Backups: Drew Sample, Tanner Hudson, Erick All, Tanner McLachlan

Other: Cam Grandy


2023 stats (New England): 244 yards, 2 TDs on 29 catches and 45 targets (8.4 yards per reception)

PFF grades for 2023: Gesicki ranked 51st of 72 qualifying tight ends with an overall grade of 55.7 and ranked 37th of 49 tight ends with a receiving grade of 58.3.

PFF ranking for 2024: Gesicki is ranked as the 31st best tight end in the league on a list of 32.


Losing Boyd in free agency, when he signed with the Tennessee Titans, was expected but still hurt the Bengals. He had been a reliable target and leader for the receivers, and completed an exciting trio of starters.

Cincinnati’s offense is evolving, though, and his shoes won’t be filled by just one player. While it seems Irwin is capable of stepping up, the Bengals have options thanks to the decision to draft Burton and bring in a tight end like Gesicki who also is capable of playing the slot. Chase and Burton can both play inside or outside, Charlie Jones and Andrei Iosivas are expected to make jumps in Year 2, and Burrow seems excited about the new wrinkles that will be thrown at opposing defenses.

For now, there is still much to prove. PFF.com ranks the Bengals as having the ninth-best receiving corps in the league entering 2024 with the San Francisco 49ers leading the pack.

PFF analyst Trevor Sikkema wrote: “The Bengals entered last season No. 1 on this list, but things look different for them heading into the 2024 campaign. Ja’Marr Chase is still a top-three or top-five wide receiver at worst, but Tee Higgins did not have as strong of a 2023 season as he did in 2022 and is entering the season without a long-term deal. Cincinnati also no longer has Joe Mixon, a good pass-catching back, or Tyler Boyd, a solid veteran WR3.”

The pass-catching running back actually seems to be an area the Bengals should be better at in 2024, and Higgins’ numbers last year were impacted by injuries. Both Higgins and Chase were still ranked among the top 32 receivers in the league with Chase checking in at No. 3 behind Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson and Miami’s Tyreek Hill.

PFF analyst Sam Monson called Chase “a devastating receiver” and noted Higgins could be ranked higher.

“When given the opportunity, Tee Higgins has shown he can be a No. 1 receiver even without Ja’Marr Chase in the lineup,” Monson wrote. “Coming off a down year, Higgins will be eager to dominate in 2024 to hit free agency coming off his best play. A big, strong possession target, throwing at Higgins in his NFL career has generated a 111.2 passer rating.”

Adding Gesicki to the mix also could be key, as he had three straight 50-catch seasons in 2019 through 2021 with Miami, and Tanner Hudson and Drew Sample also both showed improvement last year.

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