No modern offseason has featured wide receiver shakeups like this year’s when free-agent signings and trades transformed the market. After the seismic trades and another deep wideout draft altered almost every team’s receiving corps, here is how each team’s group stands entering the summer.
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32. Baltimore Ravens
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It appears the Ravens plan to add a veteran to this group. That strategy has failed in the past. Players leaguewide praise Lamar Jackson, but veteran receivers — if they can avoid it — steer clear of Baltimore. The Ravens have a superstar quarterback whose rushing talents force them to use a receiver-unfriendly offense, which requires drafting wideout talent. Baltimore lured Sammy Watkins, but he was not the team’s first, second, or third choice in free agency. Watkins is now a Packer. Rashod Bateman leads Mark Andrews’ support staff, post-Marquise Brown, with former third-rounder Devin Duvernay ticketed for a much bigger role.
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31. Chicago Bears
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The Bears’ latest Ryan-and-Matt regime does not look to have the previous one’s quarterback positioned well. Issues are present at tackle, and the Chicago receiving corps features Darnell Mooney, a 25-year-old rookie (Velus Jones, the 14th receiver chosen last month), and various backup-caliber veterans. A member of the Byron Pringle-Equanimeous St. Brown-David Moore-Tajae Sharpe crew will be asked to start, perhaps two of these three. Mooney made a Year 2 leap, posting 1,055 receiving yards in a bad passing offense. The Bears will need more from him to facilitate a Fields Year 2 vault.
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30. Atlanta Falcons
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Kyle Pitts’ abilities in the slot or out wide notwithstanding, he is a tight end. Pitts and Drake London form an intriguing mismatch combination, going 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-4, but it might take time before the duo ignites and before questions about London’s separation ability become relevant. Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder represent, entering the season, the NFL’s worst QB situation. After Calvin Ridley’s ban and Russell Gage’s exit, the Falcons have thrown a few darts beyond London. The height theme persists, at least. The team needs strong support from one of Olamide Zaccheaus, Auden Tate (6-5), and trade acquisition Bryan Edwards (6-3).
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29. New England Patriots
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Unless the Patriots have another move planned, quick development from second-round pick Tyquan Thornton becomes vital. The Pats were criticized for over-drafting the Baylor speedster, and excepting Josh Gordon’s 2013, the Big 12 program has not seen its marquee receivers (Denzel Mims, Corey Coleman, Kendall Wright) translate to the NFL recently. Thornton’s 4.2-second speed will be needed; the newly-acquired DeVante Parker ranked last in separation (per Next Gen Stats) in 2021. Jakobi Meyers again figures to play a big role for the Pats, whose Nelson Agholor and N’Keal Harry misses wound Mac Jones’ crew.
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28. Green Bay Packers
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The Packers have certainly had opportunities to bolster their receiver position in the draft, but it has now been 20 years since they chose a first-round wideout. In a season in which receiver readiness is paramount, given Aaron Rodgers’ age and the exits of Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Green Bay traded up for a Division I-FCS product (Christian Watson). Annual testers of Rodgers’ patience, the Packers need another veteran. But they already went to that well with Sammy Watkins. Ex-WR3 Allen Lazard has shown flashes but might find life more difficult without Adams diverting coverage. Randall Cobb will be 32 by Week 1.
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27. Indianapolis Colts
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Matt Ryan upgraded at receiver, but the 14-year Falcon is traveling from one thin aerial corps to another. Once again, the Colts will depend on Michael Pittman Jr. The second-generation NFLer is one of the league’s top young receivers, but beyond him, the Colts are relying on Parris Campbell to stay healthy (a rarity) and a second-round rookie who did not surpass 900 yards at a Group of Five program (Alec Pierce) to be a starter-caliber player immediately. Indianapolis should be in the market for one of the free-agent vets, though a T.Y. Hilton last ride might not move the needle much.
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26. Houston Texans
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Rivaling Brandon Marshall for receiver mercenary effectiveness, Brandin Cooks deserves more respect. He delivered a sixth 1,000-yard season and has reached four digits with four teams. Cooks’ reliability aside, second-rounder John Metchie’s readiness will determine how potent the Houston receiving corps’ potency is. A strong route runner opposite the likes of DeVonta Smith and Jameson Williams, Metchie is coming off an ACL tear. The Texans playing the long game with him makes sense, given their status in a loaded AFC. Metchie’s rehab going smoothly will give Davis Mills a better chance to be his long-term quarterback.
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25. Cleveland Browns
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Amari Cooper represents a WR1 upgrade, but the Browns again are thin on proven pass-catchers. After being unable to make their Odell Beckham Jr.-Jarvis Landry tandem matter in the grand scheme, the Browns will see what they have in Anthony Schwartz and third-round rookie David Bell. Donovan Peoples-Jones will be counted on to capitalize on the opportunities defensive attention to Cooper provide. After helping free up CeeDee Lamb, Cooper may again be tasked with using his route-running chops to open windows for teammates. Either way, the Browns are banking on Watson — when not suspended — elevating their young receivers.
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24. Jacksonville Jaguars
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Like Sammy Watkins four years ago, Christian Kirk’s deal broke the receiver market. The Jaguars shook up the league with their $18 million-per-year Kirk deal, but it is a lot to ask the ex-Cardinal to ascend to WR1 status. If Kirk cannot, the Jaguars look like a collection of tertiary targets. Marvin Jones will be 32 this season, though he — like just about everyone — should be better off post-Urban Meyer. But the Jags overpaid for backup-type Zay Jones and did not draft a receiver. Gadget player Laviska Shenault is on system No. 3 in his third year; the ex-second-rounder is the wild card here.
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23. Tennessee Titans
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Unlike the Packers and Chiefs, the Titans used a first-round pick on a receiver after trading a star talent. With Ryan Tannehill a tier or two below Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes, the Titans are taking a bigger risk with their A.J. Brown-for-Treylon Burks swap. With Robert Woods coming off a midseason ACL tear, the bulky ex-Razorback will not have much acclimation time. The Titans did well to pry Woods from the Rams for a late-round pick, but they are asking a lot of Burks — RAC potential notwithstanding — considering they feature little else at the position beyond their top two.
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22. Detroit Lions
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The Lions would rank higher were their offseason adds not coming off severe injuries. In addition to Jameson Williams’ January ACL tear, D.J. Chark sustained a broken ankle last season. That spared him from much of the Urban Meyer mess, but the ex-Jaguar has not followed up on his 2019 1,000-yard slate. The Lions are willing to be the team that restores the former second-rounder’s value. Once Williams is ready to roll around midseason, a trio of him, Chark, and Amon-Ra St. Brown — who delivered quality slot work down the stretch as a rookie — has considerable upward mobility. A massive improvement on 2021’s nothingness here.
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21. Washington Commanders
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Washington has tried to surround Terry McLaurin with help; it has yet to work out. Curtis Samuel barely played last season, and Adam Humphries has never recaptured his Tampa form. The team took this matter seriously this year, selecting shifty Penn State target Jahan Dotson in Round 1. Last year’s third-rounder, Dyami Brown, posted 165 yards in 15 games. Still, Dotson, Samuel, and a soon-to-be wealthy McLaurin stand to represent an upgrade for Carson Wentz, whose Colts receiver stable was much thinner than this one projects to be.
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20. New York Giants
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A few ifs are pertinent here. Kenny Golladay needs to show his 2018-19 stretch represents his true abilities (and not his 2020s no-show), and Sterling Shepard giving the Giants at least a 75% availability rate would help. Bigger ifs are present with the Giants’ younger cogs, whose skillsets seem to overlap. The intriguing Kadarius Toney was an availability nightmare last year; various injuries and COVID-19-related setbacks plagued him. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler ranked slot/gadget weapon Wan’Dale Robinson 105th in this class; the Giants took the explosive prospect 43rd, indicating big plans. Darius Slayton may be traded, but he is an overqualified WR5 for now.
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19. Kansas City Chiefs
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Kansas City still rosters speed threats, in Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Mecole Hardman. But no one can match what Tyreek Hill provided. It will be fascinating what Andy Reid’s 10th Chiefs offense looks like. JuJu Smith-Schuster complements MVS’ deep capabilities, but he has not disproven his Antonio Brown-assisted 2018 Pro Bowl year was a mirage. But the ex-Steeler, still 25, could be lethal in the slot with Patrick Mahomes. Second-rounder Skyy Moore appears a slot in training, and Hardman’s contributions are a bonus at this point. Some interesting ingredients reside here, though Hill’s exit clouds the situation.
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18. Dallas Cowboys
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The Cowboys will learn exactly how important Amari Cooper was, with Michael Gallup unlikely to start the season on time. Betting on Gallup at roughly half Cooper’s price made sense, even if Cooper’s contract netted Dallas next to nothing in that trade, but CeeDee Lamb will be under more pressure than he’s faced as a pro. The playmaker will need to do even better than his 79-1,102-6 season. Dak Prescott must rely on Lamb; Cedrick Wilson Jr. is also gone, and South Alabama’s Jalen Tolbert will need to adjust to a massive competition leap. James Washington represents a solid flier, however. He could be better than his Steelers role ended up.
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17. Carolina Panthers
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As D.J. Moore fantasy GMs can attest, this group deserves a mulligan on 2021’s disaster. The canyon Sam Darnold and Cam Newton plunged into kayoed Carolina’s receivers after Moore and Robbie Anderson went 1,000-1,000 with Teddy Bridgewater in 2020. Second-rounder Terrace Marshall drifted well off the radar, too, totaling just 138 receiving yards in 13 games. The Panthers still believe in these troops, not drafting a wideout, and they augmented the group by adding ex-Browns complementary piece, Rashard Higgins. Of course, their QB situation may not change much in 2022.
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16. New York Jets
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The Jets tried desperately to make a bigger splash — from Tyreek Hill to Amari Cooper to /insert trade for 2019 draftee/ — but they kept their resources and will benefit big if Garrett Wilson is ready. In addition to the Ohio State-trained catch-radius maven, the Jets have quality support waiting. If used as a WR2, Corey Davis can be helpful. The Jets also have a slot coalition of sorts, in Elijah Moore and the recently re-signed Braxton Berrios, to team with Wilson. We do not know enough yet to label this a true upper-echelon contingent, but tools and balance are present. We will learn if the Jets chose the right QB soon.
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15. San Francisco 49ers
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This both groups Deebo Samuel as a receiver and a 49er, and it appears the versatile dynamo’s camp will play hardball to prevent Kyle Shanahan from overdoing it with Samuel run packages. Shanahan coaxes the best work from Samuel, scheming ways to free up the explosive star. Fortunately, the 49ers received quality late-season contributions from ex-seventh-rounder Jauan Jennings; Brandon Aiyuk’s 2021 stint in Shanahan’s doghouse clouds his future to some degree. But the 2020 first-rounder has shown enough to be considered a fine Samuel supplementary piece. Third-rounder Danny Gray’s 4.33-second 40 clocking also intrigues.
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14. Philadelphia Eagles
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After missing badly on J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Jalen Reagor, GM Howie Roseman (perhaps smartly) stepped off the early-round receiver merry-go-round with the A.J. Brown trade. The Eagles have a burgeoning superstar at receiver; Brown is the closest thing Philly has rostered to Terrell Owens (sans the diva routine) since his exit. Brown’s presence will aid DeVonta Smith, who quietly eclipsed 900 yards despite playing in what became a run-dominated offense. Ex-Colt Zach Pascal profiles as a nice rotational player as well. Of course, this arsenal is attached to Jalen Hurts, who has plenty to prove as a passer.
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13. Arizona Cardinals
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The Cardinals have amassed a unique downfield duo, acquiring diminutive Marquise Brown to play alongside one of the great jump-ball players in NFL history. DeAndre Hopkins’ PED suspension throws off Arizona’s plan. Brown alongside Hopkins, taking over as the Cards’ top deep threat for ex-Oklahoma teammate Kyler Murray, makes sense. Brown solo does not, especially with shopworn A.J. Green back. The Cards need more from Rondale Moore in the slot, as they did not draft a wideout and it has been made clear Andy Isabella will not work in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense. Assessing Arizona’s array is on hold until late October.
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12. Denver Broncos
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We have heard for two years Denver’s receiver armada was a good quarterback away from mattering. With Russell Wilson’s Broncos debut on tap, a fair amount of pressure shifts to the receiving corps that rarely moved the needle with Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater. Courtland Sutton’s 2020 ACL tear, and Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler’s 2021 injuries have prevented Denver’s well-built quartet (which steady possession target Tim Patrick rounds out) from evaluations. This year should change that. The Broncos kept their receiving pillars out of the Wilson trade, including Noah Fant instead. It is time for the size- and speed-equipped cast to prove it.
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11. Pittsburgh Steelers
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This space will assume one of the George Pickens-Calvin Austin rookie duo will become a standout; that is just how it goes in Pittsburgh. The Steelers’ wideout assembly line shipped out JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington, adding rookies to go with rookie-contract starters, Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool. Ben Roethlisberger’s decline limited both last season, and it will be interesting to see if either of the Steelers’ unproven QBs — Mitch Trubisky or Kenny Pickett — can further unlock this underappreciated pair. If Pickens assimilates like Johnson or Claypool, the Steeler receiver machine is back in high gear.
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10. Las Vegas Raiders
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The Raiders have now acquired Aaron Rodgers’ two favorite receivers. Jordy Nelson, 33 when he suited up in Oakland, did not translate. This Raiders regime is betting Davante Adams, who reached a higher level as a Packer than Nelson, has much more left in the tank at 29. Derek Carr’s ex-Fresno State partner chose to leave Rodgers for a less talented quarterback, but his arrival will free up Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller. Renfrow is playing for a contract, making Adams’ arrival ideal. The Las Vegas slot should have room to operate. Demarcus Robinson or Keelan Cole as the team’s No. 4 target is acceptable.
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9. Seattle Seahawks
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The Russell Wilson-buoyed reputation of the Tyler Lockett-D.K. Metcalf tandem will be tested, with Drew Lock or Geno Smith replacing the future Hall of Famer. And, with A.J. Brown setting the market for the 2019 receiver class, it cannot be assumed the Seahawks will pay Metcalf what he seeks. Seattle’s contract-year physical specimen is also coming off a season shy of 1,000 yards despite playing 17 games. That could be an ugly prelude to a Seahawks aerial regression. It will be interesting to see Lockett work without Wilson, and the Seahawks need to learn what they have in second-rounder Dee Eskridge, who missed most of his rookie year.
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8. New Orleans Saints
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After deploying the NFL’s worst receiving corps last season — a group that produced zero 700-yard showings — the Saints loaded up. They eschewed draft value by making multiple trade-ups for Chris Olave, and Jarvis Landry followed Tyrann Mathieu’s New Orleans homecoming with his own. Landry and Olave could represent elite support, pushing Tre’Quan Smith and Marquez Callaway down the depth chart and giving Jameis Winston a receiving corps that resembles his deep 2018 Bucs collection. Of course, this still hinges on Michael Thomas, who has been largely a nonfactor since 2019. If the former All-Pro is ready to go, this will be a fun aerial attack.
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7. Los Angeles Chargers
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Same as it ever was. Before the receiver market combusted, via Christian Kirk’s deal and the ensuing monster trades, the Chargers became the first team to sign off on two $20 million-per-year wideouts. Mike Williams’ three-year, $60M pact extends his partnership with Keenan Allen into a sixth season. OC Joe Lombardi made Williams more than a deep threat in 2021, and Allen (finally 30) is submitting one of the longer primes in recent receiver history. The Bolts went big at most of their other spots but stood pat here. Holdover deep threat Jalen Guyton and 2020 third-rounder Josh Palmer represent an underrated support staff.
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6. Minnesota Vikings
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Questions on how much Adam Thielen has left and the viability of K.J. Osborn as the Vikings’ No. 3 wideout are relevant, but neither needs to dominate for this to be a top-flight receiving corps. Justin Jefferson is that good. The do-it-all playmaker will be prepared to target the Tyreek Hill-Davante Adams contracts — and without the phony final years propping up their averages — when eligible for a deal in 2023. This year will only be Jefferson’s age-23 season, putting Minnesota’s offense in good shape long-term. Kirk Cousins may ensure it never becomes great, but that is not the topic here. Jefferson raises his troops’ floor considerably.
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5. Miami Dolphins
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Tyreek Hill will entrust his Hall of Fame push to Tua Tagovailoa, a risky proposition when a future with Patrick Mahomes was on the table. But the Dolphins made the world-class speedster an offer he could not refuse; the Raiders’ Adams deal directly changed their top rivals’ plans. Hill’s dimension-changing abilities pair with fellow breakaway threat Jaylen Waddle. Of course, the Dolphins turned the ex-Alabama deep threat into a PPR chain mover. Still, Hill and Waddle present one of the fastest receiver duos in NFL history. Their presence will help ex-Dallas WR4 Cedrick Wilson Jr. aim to justify his $7 million-per-year deal.
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4. Buffalo Bills
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Stefon Diggs is still in his 20s (28), and Gabriel Davis showed in January — via his four-touchdown takeover in Kansas City — his prime could be memorable. The 23-year-old target has 1,000-yard potential as a full-timer, and that role awaits post-Emmanuel Sanders. The Bills also upgraded in the slot, with Jamison Crowder set for a high-profile gig — after he spent seven years with Washington and the Jets. With Diggs and Davis drawing coverage, Crowder could have a career season with Josh Allen feeding him targets inside. Gadget player Isaiah McKenzie sticking around solidifies this as a top-five stable.
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3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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This placement depends on Chris Godwin’s ACL rehab. The Buccaneers missed their versatile target dearly down the stretch, opening the door to the Antonio Brown fiasco. Russell Gage doubles as Godwin insurance, with the ex-Falcon quietly surpassing 700 yards in each of the past two seasons. Throwing out a Godwin-Gage-Mike Evans trio will once again provide Tom Brady with a slick array of targets. The Godwin genre of receiver has always meshed better with Brady, but Evans still gets his. He is the only player in NFL history to go 8-for-8 in 1,000-yard receiving seasons to start a career. And, at 29, he remains in his prime.
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2. Los Angeles Rams
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If Odell Beckham Jr. indeed reprises his role once healthy, this is the NFL’s best-receiving corps. Cooper Kupp’s otherworldly leap last season still gives Matthew Stafford plenty to work with, and here is betting Allen Robinson reawakens after trudging through Justin Fields’ debut. Robinson will be 29 this year, but the big-bodied target catches an ace quarterback just before the curtain closes on his prime. Stafford will be a noticeable difference from the Bortles, Trubisky and Fields types. Van Jefferson remains a work in progress, but he sneakily eclipsed 800 yards in Year 2. Does 2021 second-rounder Tutu Atwell have a role here?
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1. Cincinnati Bengals
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Despite the expansion to a 17-game schedule, Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins were the NFL’s lone 1,000-1,000 duo last year. Higgins got there in 14 games. They are 22 and 23, respectively. Chase’s ceiling might be higher than any active receiver’s. Although, the team will likely need to pay both Higgins and Joe Burrow in 2023. That is, in Marlo Stanfield parlance, one of those good problems. Tyler Boyd has stacked four straight 800-plus-yard seasons and profiles as one of the league’s most reliable slot cogs, rounding out Cincinnati’s balance. This cadre will play a major role in the Bengals’ title defense in a scarier AFC.