2024 NFL Draft: First-round trades Bengals could make, including a blockbuster deal for Justin Jefferson

One reason the NFL Draft is so much fun to watch every year is because it’s so unpredictable. When the draft kicks off on April 25 in Detroit, there’s a good chance that we’ll see at least one trade go down in the first round that will leave us absolutely shocked. For instance, we saw the Texans get a little crazy last year when they decided to trade up from 12th overall to third overall to get Will Anderson Jr., and this was after they had just selected C.J. Stroud with the second overall pick. 

Although not every trade will be that shocking, it’s pretty much a guarantee that we’ll see multiple first-round trades take place. With that in mind, we’re taking a look at potential trades that some teams might make in the first round this year, and today, we’re looking at possible options on the table for the Cincinnati Bengals. 

If the Bengals are going to make a trade in the first round, it’s almost certainly going to be a trade down. Over the past 25 years, the Bengals haven’t traded up a SINGLE TIME in the first round of the draft. However, trading down is a different story as the Bengals have done that twice in the first round since 2010. 

Now that you know their trade history, we’re going to take a look at three possible trades that the Bengals could make in the first round, including one that has them going up, one that has them going down and one crazy one that would end with Justin Jefferson in Cincinnati.

Trade up into the top 10

  • Bengals get: Ninth overall pick
  • Bears get: 18th overall pick, second-round pick (49th overall), third-round pick (97th overall)

Heading into the 2024 draft, the Bengals don’t have a lot of gaping holes on their roster. Their biggest needs are in the trenches (defensive tackle and right tackle) along with receiver, tight end and corner. They currently have solid starters at each of those spots, but it won’t be surprising at all if one of those five positions ends up being the pick in the first round. 

Like we already mentioned, the Bengals almost never trade up in the first round, but it could make some sense in this scenario. If the Bengals were to trade up to the ninth overall pick, that would put them in a spot where they could conceivably get one of the top available players at their biggest position of need. 

If they want a tight end, there’s a good chance Brock Bowers will still be on the board. If they want an offensive lineman, they’d be in a spot to grab the second-best lineman in the draft with only likely Joe Alt going off the board before the Bengals pick at nine. If they want a top corner, they’d likely be able to get the best corner in the draft in either Quinyon Mitchell or Terrion Arnold. If they want a receiver, they’d have a shot to get pretty much anyone not named Malik Nabers or Marvin Harrison Jr. as top players like Rome Odunze and Brian Thomas Jr. would almost certainly be available at ninth overall. 

Basically, this would allow the Bengals to grab someone at the top of their draft board at whatever position they feel is their biggest need. 

The reason the Bears would potentially be open to this deal is because they currently only have four picks in the entire draft and this would move that total up to seven. Also, they don’t currently have a second-rounder this year and this deal would fill that void for them.

For more draft coverage, you can hear in-depth analysis twice a week on “With the First Pick” — our year-round NFL Draft podcast with NFL Draft analyst Ryan Wilson and former Vikings general manager Rick Spielman. You can find “With the First Pick” wherever you get your podcasts: Apple PodcastsSpotifyYouTube, etc. Listen below!

Trade down to No. 28

  • Bengals get: 28th overall pick, second-round pick (60th overall), fourth-round pick (133rd overall)
  • Bills get: 18th overall pick, seventh-round pick (237th overall)

After trading Stefon Diggs to the Houston Texans, there’s a good chance that the Bills will be looking to grab a receiver in the first round. If they want to get Marvin Harrison Jr. or Malik Nabers, they’d likely have to trade up into the top six, which might get too expensive, so they settle for this trade with the Bengals. 

By going to 18th overall, the Bills could have someone like LSU’s Brian Thomas Jr. fall into their lap, but if they don’t like their receiving options at No. 18, they could take a pass rusher like UCLA’s Laiatu Latu or Penn State’s Chop Robinson. The Bills could also be in a spot to take a defensive tackle like Byron Murphy II if they wanted to go that route. 

As for the Bengals, if they pulled off this trade, they would have three of the first 60 picks and that would be ideal for a team that’s looking to add quality depth. This deal would open the door for them to grab an offensive tackle, a defensive tackle and a wide receiver all in the top 60. 

This trade would also give the Bengals five picks for Day 2 of the draft, and that is where they’ve done some of their best work over the past few years with selections like Tee Higgins, Logan Wilson, Germaine Pratt, Jessie Bates III, Sam Hubbard and Joe Mixon, who were all picked in the second or third round since 2017.

Make trade for Justin Jefferson

Bengals get: Justin Jefferson
Vikings get: Tee Higgins, 18th overall pick, 2025 third-round pick

Crazy things always happen at the NFL Draft and this would definitely qualify as crazy. This trade probably has less than a 1% chance of happening, but we’re going to throw it out there anyway because you can at least make the case that this deal would make some sense, especially when you look at everything that’s happened this offseason: 

That seems like the perfect storm for a crazy trade. If you’re the Vikings, this would be a solid deal because not only are you getting a receiver to replace Jefferson, but you also get the 18th overall pick in the 2024 draft, which should help you fill another hole on your roster. Not to mention, Higgins will likely come $4 million to $5 million per year cheaper than Jefferson on a long-term deal, so that would be another upside for Minnesota.   

As for the Bengals, adding Jefferson would be a salary cap nightmare, but this would prove that they’re all in on winning a Super Bowl in 2024 and it would be especially fitting since the Super Bowl is being played at the Superdome in New Orleans, where Burrow, Chase and Jefferson won their national title together while playing for LSU. 

The 2024 NFL Draft will take place from April 25-27 in Detroit. More draft coverage can be found at CBSSports.com, including the weekly updated draft order, mock drafts and a regularly available look at the eligible prospects


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