Bengals $44 Million Veteran Could Be ‘Replaced Through the Draft’

Bengals could let WR Tyler Boyd walk in 2024 NFL free agency.

Getty Will the Cincinnati Bengals let wide receiver Tyler Boyd walk in 2024 free agency?

It should be an interesting offseason at wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2024.

Both Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd are set to hit free agency, while superstar Ja’Marr Chase is eligible for an extension. And although the Bengals do have nearly $60 million in available cap space this spring, it’s unlikely that all three pass-catchers get new contracts at the same time.

That could make Boyd the odd man out according to Bleacher Report writer Alex Ballentine. On February 5, Ballentine outlined the “biggest strength” of every NFL roster heading into the offseason.

For Cincinnati, the analyst chose “pass-catchers,” but his compliment quickly turned into a potential negative.

“Tyler Boyd continues to be one of the most overqualified No. 3 receivers in the league,” Ballentine voiced. “The former second-round pick had 67 receptions for 667 yards and two touchdowns [in 2023].”

Continuing: “Keeping this group together will be difficult in the offseason. Both Higgins and Boyd are free agents, while [running back Joe] Mixon is set to account for an $8.9 million cap hit.”

This all led Ballentine to conclude that “Higgins figures to be a candidate for the franchise tag, while Boyd could be replaced through the draft.”

Will Tyler Boyd’s 8-Year Run With Bengals End in 2024?

As Ballentine mentioned, Boyd was originally a second-round selection of the Bengals in 2016. The slot specialist has spent his entire eight-year career in Cincy, registering two 1,000-yard campaigns.

Consistency has been the name of Boyd’s game since entering the league. He’s only appeared in fewer than 14 games once over the course of his NFL tenure (10 games in 2017). And he ended up earning approximately $44.03 million from a four-year extension that initially only promised $43 million before incentives — per Over the Cap.

It’s rare that NFL players earn the full value of their contract. It’s even more rare that they earn more.

At age 30 in November, Boyd’s track record allows him to cash in on one final payday. However, the Bengals have bigger fish to fry with Higgins and Chase needing new deals.

Barring Boyd taking less money to stay in Cincinnati, it makes sense that the 2024 offseason could put an end to his long and successful career with the Bengals.

Bengals Could Tap Into Strong WR Class in Round 1 or 2 of NFL Draft

NFL Network draft expert Daniel Jeremiah listed 11 wide receivers in his top-50 prospect ranking on January 30. Outside of a blockbuster trade up in round one, you can eliminate three of those rookies as candidates for the Bengals considering their likely top-10 status (Marvin Harrison Jr., Rome Odunze and Malik Nabers).

That leaves first- and second-round options like LSU’s Brian Thomas Jr., North Carolina’s Devontez Walker, Texas’ Adonai Mitchell, Florida State’s Keon Coleman, Oregon’s Troy Franklin, Texas’ Xavier Worthy, Georgia’s Ladd McConkey and Western Kentucky’s Malachi Corley, among others.

During a mock draft on January 22, NFL Network colleague Bucky Brooks had Cincinnati selecting Thomas at No. 18 overall.

“The potential loss of Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd in free agency could force the Bengals to take an offensive weapon early in the draft,” Brooks reasoned. “Thomas is an athletic playmaker with the size and ball skills to thrive as a WR2 opposite Ja’Marr Chase.”

On the contrary, Jeremiah, NFL Network draft analyst Lance Zierlein and NFL Network lead draft writer Eric Edholm all predicted that the Bengals would go offensive tackle in round one. If that is the eventual decision, there are still plenty of wide receivers that could replace Boyd.

Cincy has all seven of their draft picks in 2024 — plus compensatory picks in the sixth and seventh rounds according to Tankathon.

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