Speculation Mounting Around Potential Bengals Trade for Justin Jefferson

Media hypes Bengals-Vikings trade swapping Tee Higgins and Justin Jefferson.

Getty Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (left) and Minnesota Vikings counterpart Justin Jefferson (right).

If you’ve ventured down the Cincinnati Bengals rabbit hole recently, you might have seen theories about the Minnesota Vikings potentially trading superstar wide receiver Justin Jefferson to Cincy for a package including fellow star wideout Tee Higgins.

On March 12, former Bengals first-round tight end Tyler Eifert threw some gasoline on that fire on X, voicing: “Sources telling me Jefferson to Cincy is in motion. 👀”

He included a screenshot of the current betting odds for the 2025 Super Bowl, but it should be noted that it’s unclear if Eifert has any real sources at all.

Either way, his post caused a stir around the NFL community — which led to more speculation on a potential Jefferson-Bengals blockbuster involving Higgins.

“Vikings and Bengals should do a deal,” Fox Sports television host Craig Carton suggested on X. “Send Tee Higgins and a 2nd rounder and 4th Rounder to Minny in return for Justin Jefferson.”

Outkick and Fox News senior NFL writer Armando Salguero also weighed in on social media, stating: “The Bengals haven’t negotiated with Tee Higgins in forever. The Vikings were rebuffed by Justin Jefferson after they made a record-breaking offer. These two teams should follow a championship strategy with both these great players going forward…”

Salguero then linked an Outkick article that he wrote which discussed both teams following the Kansas City Chiefs model and trading their stud wide receivers for draft capital. But is some sort of swap more mutually beneficial?

Contract Projections for Justin Jefferson Cast Doubt on Bengals Trade Theory

There is one obvious hold-up in this trade theory. Even if Minnesota backed down from their current stance that they will not be moving Jefferson, would the Bengals actually go after him considering they’re already paying quarterback Joe Burrow an average salary of $55 million per year?

They also must extend a different superstar wideout in Ja’Marr Chase. And then there’s Jefferson.

The Vikings playmaker is expected to make “more than $30 million per year” once signing a new deal, according to ESPN NFL insider Dan Graziano. So, if Cincinnati is uncertain about extending both Higgins and Chase, are they really going to pay even more money for Higgins and Jefferson?

Minnesota extending Higgins is more plausible — especially if they’re gaining draft picks in the exchange. They’ve already offered Jefferson a new contract in the past, so they’re not unwilling to pay a reasonable amount to retain a top-tier WR.

If he were to play on the franchise tag in 2024, Higgins would cost the Bengals a fully guaranteed cap hit of $21.8 million.

Bengals WR Ja’Marr Chase Has Offered to Take Pay Cut for LSU Reunion With Justin Jefferson

There is one way the Bengals could get the financials to work — let’s say they trust Jefferson more than Higgins long-term — a joint pay cut.

During an NBC Sports interview with former NFL safety Devin McCourty in November of 2023, Chase expressed interest in reuniting with his former LSU teammate, Jefferson.

“Hey, if we could do that, I’m with it,” Chase said at the time. Adding: “I ain’t a selfish player. I don’t mind. I might have to take a [pay] cut. He might gotta take a cut, too, but I ain’t a selfish player. That would be fun to see again.”

It’s unclear if Chase would take the same pay cut to keep Higgins on the roster long-term.

As for Chase, the wideout caused his own social media stir on March 12, sending a cryptic message to followers amid all of the aforementioned chatter and speculation.