There is no “NFL offseason” for us - we are talking football all year round! And, at this time of year, there has been no hotter name than Tee Higgins. Unfortunately, the NFL media will need to find a new hot name as the Bengals have officially franchise-tagged Higgins, meaning he‘s locked in for 2024 at the very least. Now we just need to see if they can work out a long-term deal as we approach the legal tampering period and NFL free agency, which effectively starts on March 11th. 

The Tee Higgins move is a big one but that’s not the only key decision the Bengals have. Thanks in large part to injuries, the Bengals were unable to win a Super Bowl during the rookie contract windows for Joe Burron, Ja'Marr Chase, and Tee Higgins so now they have some tough decisions to make. 

Let’s a take a look at the roster, depth chart, contracts, and salary cap to predict what might happen in free agency for Bengals fans and fantasy football gamers alike!

*The salary cap numbers referenced in this article come courtesy of our friends over at*

Fantasy Football Depth Chart: Cincinnati Bengals


Joe Burrow

Jake Browning


Running Back

Joe Mixon

Chase Brown

Trayveon Williams

Chris Evans

Wide Receiver

Ja'Marr Chase

Andre Losivas


Wide Receiver

Tee Higgins

Trenton Irwin


Wide Receiver

Tyler Boyd

Charlie Jones


Tight End

Drew Sample

Tanner Hudson

Mitchell Wilcox

Irv Smith Jr

 White = unrestricted free agent

Green = role is safe

Yellow = role could be in jeopardy

Red = could be traded or released





Joe Burrow: Joe Burrow has never been bad - only hurt.  If you take every QB of all time in passing yards per game, Joe Burrow’s 270.8 would rank seventh right in between Matthew Stafford and Peyton Manning. I know Bengals fans want to win a Super Bowl, but they should be content being one of the “haves” with an elite QB when most of the league are “have nots”. 

In your dynasty leagues, especially superflex leagues, you can also feel comfortable with Burrow in your lineup every single week. And they already made him the highest paid QB so he’s not going anywhere.

Jake BrowningI’ve actually seen a bunch of folks on Twitter saying their team should “sign Jake Browning” as a free agent. He is TECHNICALLY a free agent but he’s an exclusive rights free agent. Which means the Bengals can keep him for about a million dollars without anyone else being able to negotiate with him. Which means Jake Browning isn’t going anywhere.

BENGALS QB FREE AGENCY TAKE: And there you go - the Bengals are set for 2024 at both starter and backup. If Jake Browning continues to garner interest, they’ll need to make future plans, but they aren’t going to do better than Browning on that deal. 

Running Back

Joe MixonIt’s time for the annual “Bengals trade or release Joe Mixon” talks. And there is also some logic behind it - he does have a roster bonus that hits on March 17 which adds another $3 million. But Mixon already restructured his deal last year to take less money and stay with the team. 

Some players acknowledge rumors, and some don’t - Joe Mixon recently on Twitter decided to acknowledge these rumors saying that it is “clown behavior”. So, on one hand, you have him saying he’s not going anywhere, and on the other, you have a Bengals beat writer saying they should release him (though I guess it is worth noting that Joe Mixon refuses to do interviews with Jay Morrison, which is another topic entirely). 

Here are my thoughts both for the Bengals and for fantasy gamers: Joe Mixon is probably going to lead this Bengals backfield in 2024. They are in a win-now window and it’s highly unlikely they just hand the backfield to Chase Brown. Are they really going to cut Mixon, eat that dead cap, then take the savings and pay another RB who is somehow better? And, even if that were to happen, Joe Mixon would get picked up and lead another backfield. 

If you are a “win now” team in your dynasty or keeper league, Joe Mixon is a guy you should be buying. He’s been a top 10 back in PPR leagues three straight years. He was just RB6 this past year without Joe Burrow for most of the season. He will be in your lineup one way or another. And you won’t have to pay top price thanks to the perpetual rumors. 

Chase BrownNow, just because we like Joe Mixon doesn’t mean we can’t like Chase Brown too. The eye test shows his explosiveness but so do the stats - of players with at least 25 carries, he had the fourth highest breakaway run rate per ProFootballFocus. He’s a great change of pace back to mix in with Joe Mixon and, if he keeps it up, he might be able to force the issue moving forward, the way guys like Tony Pollard and Austin Ekeler did behind Ezekiel Elliott and Melvin Gordon

Joe Mixon turns 28 this summer so time is on Chase Brown’s side. You also need to be careful with guys who were drafted on Day 3 though. It should never surprise us when teams bring in competition even when we like Dameon Pierce, Philip Lindsay, Tyler Allgeier, Michael Carter etc.

Trayveon WilliamsTrayveon was jumped on the offensive depth chart by Chase Brown but what he did still offer was kick returns. As an unrestricted free agent, that skill could probably land him a roster spot where he might be able to compete for more work on offense so I’m guessing he finds a new team. If not, he could be back for depth and special teams. 

Chris EvansChris Evans operates on multiple special teams units and he has handled kick returns in the past. His upside in fantasy was to carve out some sort of pass role after the departure of Samaje Perine but that seems unlikely at this stage. He’s on a cheap deal so he’ll likely hang around for depth but can also be released for next to no dead cap if they need the roster spot. 

BENGALS RB FREE AGENCY TAKE: If we are to believe Joe Mixon, the Bengals are set at the top with Mixon and Chase Brown. It’s not like they would release Mixon then make a fairly lateral move to someone like Tony Pollard anyway. 

Chris Evans could handle the kick return work or perhaps they bring back Trayveon Williams for that. There are some guys out there that could handle it as well like Antonio Gibson, Ty Johnson, or Craig Reynolds if Williams wants to test the market.


Wide Receiver

Ja'Marr ChaseThe only question about Ja'Marr Chase is how much money to pay him. He and Justin Jefferson are going to reset the entire market. But he’s a super star and hasn’t been any mention whatsoever of him not playing with his good buddy Joe Burrow for a long time.

Tee Higgins: Higgins has officially been franchise tagged. That means he’s under contract for ~$20 million guaranteed for 2024 at least.

Ideally for everyone they figure out how to sign BOTH Higgins and Chase to long term deals and everyone lives happily ever after. But it doesn’t typically work like that in the business of the NFL. The Chargers tried that with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams and those top-heavy contracts plus injuries have held the team back as a whole. As of now, those two players have the two highest WR cap hits in the league for 2024 and one may need to be released.

For you dynasty leagues, if Tee Higgins does leave in 2025, that creates a huge opportunity for either another WR or a tight end to step up. The vast majority of top five tight ends in fantasy are top two targets on the team. Keep that in mind if they draft a high end wide receiver or tight end in this draft. They may not pop as a rookie but also might only be one year from a huge breakout.

Tyler BoydTyler Boyd started his career as a slot guy. Then he graduated to a guy that played slot in three WR sets but stayed on the field at flanker for two WR sets. And he had a couple thousand yards seasons doing that. Recently he’s gone back to being a pure slot guy with Tee Higgins and Ja'Marr Chase being the full-time guys which has capped his upside. 

He’s actually still 29 years old, so he’s actually younger than guys like Tyreek Hill and Stefon Diggs. It will be interesting to see what kind of situation he lands in and whether he’s just a slot guy or if he has a bigger role. He’s a guy who would be incredibly cheap to grab in your dynasty leagues as well just to see. Just remember - you now WANT him to leave the Bengals with Tee Higgins confirmed back.

Trenton IrwinHere we will find out how much they really like Irwin. Tyler Boyd played 521 slot snaps. Ja'Marr Chase was next with 148 but he’s obviously not a true slot WR. After that it was Trenton Irwin with 96. Both Irwin and Boyd are free agents. 

If they let Boyd walk and sign Irwin, this could be his time to shine in the slot. He’s actually only a year younger than Boyd so it’s not about youth - it’s about money. All things even, I’m sure they would rather just have Boyd but sacrifices need to be made.

Charlie JonesIf BOTH Boyd and Irwin are gone, that could open the door for Jones. He didn’t play much on offense (and also missed a bunch of games with injury), but when he did, he primarily played slot. His roster spot is safe regardless because he was their primary punt returner and even returned on for a touchdown. So he’ll be on the team on his cheap rookie deal. His path to fantasy relevancy depends on what happens with the free agents. 

Andrei IosivasAndre Iosivas, at 6”3” 205, is a backup on the outside and stepped in to help out, especially when Tee Higgins was banged up. Even if they were to move on from Tee Higgins next year, it’s highly unlikely that they would just make him the starting split end and move ahead. But, if they try to replace Higgins via the draft, maybe there is some opportunity there if the prospect falls flat. 

BENGALS WR FREE AGENCY TAKE: They are Tee Higgins will be back and, if they can bring back one of Boyd or Irwin, they really just need to fill out depth. As for slot options, here’s their best bet going into next year, if they can’t figure out things with Boyd.

POSSIBLE SLOT OPTIONS: Curtis Samuel, Marquise Brown, Kendrick Bourne, Cedrick Wilson, Darnell Mooney


Tight End

Drew SampleThe Cincinnati Bengals technically don’t have a tight end under contract right now. Sample is listed first here because he technically led the team in snaps. He’s pretty much established as a pure blocking tight end so he’ll never have much fantasy relevance but maybe they bring him back in that capacity. He could also follow Brian Callahan to Tennessee as they need a blocking tight end to pair with Chigoziem Okonkwo

Tanner HudsonHudson was their best option in the pass game, but he doesn’t offer much in the way of blocking. He’s a restricted free agent so he can be kept for $2.8 million if they want to keep the journeyman for that. It’s not crazy given the premium on pass-catching but might make sense to work out a two-year deal with lower AAV.

Mitchell WilcoxAgain, another pure blocking tight end that also contributes on special teams. They could retain him in that capacity but don’t expect him to light up your fantasy football leagues.

Irv Smith Jr: It was an interesting idea as there was some hype for the former Alabama prospect but it just didn’t work out. The injuries alone make it impossible to rely on him at this stage. Someone out there will probably give him one last shot. 

BENGALS TE FREE AGENCY TAKE: Tee Higgins is back which eases their need for pass-catchers but obviously something has to be done here. The Bengals haven’t had a great pass-catching tight end since Tyler Eifert. With Chase, Higgins, and Boyd that wasn’t a big deal, but they might not have those three again. It sure would be cool if they landed super rookie prospect Brock Bowers or even someone like Ja’Tavion Sanders. But here are the options in free agency if they go that route.

POSSIBLE TIGHT END OPTIONS: Dalton Schultz, Hunter Henry, Gerald Everett, Noah Fant, Austin Hooper

NFL Free Agency Previews

Discover our other breakdowns for the rest of the league ahead of 2024 NFL free agency: