Best Cincinnati Bengals Wide Receivers of All Time: From Isaac Curtis to Ja’Marr Chase

The Cincinnati Bengals have drafted wide receivers better than any other position, making for some tough choices in picking the top 10.

The current route Ja’Marr Chase is running is likely to end up with him being the best wide receiver in Cincinnati Bengals history.

He’s out of his break, the ball is on its way, and Chase simply needs to make the catch and finish the run. But he’s not there yet, three seasons into his career.

Three years into the A.J. Green show, everyone thought he was ensured the top spot on the franchise list. How close did he get?

Here are the top 10 wide receivers in Bengals history.

Ranking the Greatest WRs in Cincinnati Bengals History

Honorable mentions: Tim McGee, Tyler Boyd, Chip Myers, Peter Warrick, Marvin Jones Jr., Mohamed Sanu

10) Tee Higgins (2020-Present)

In just four seasons, Tee Higgins has climbed into 12th place in team history in receiving yards (3,684) and receiving touchdowns (24), and he’s 13th in receiving yards.

The 2020 second-round pick ranks first in postseason touchdowns (three) and is second in receptions (31) and yards (457).

He also authored one of the most impressive touchdowns in team history last year against Minnesota.

Because the current era in which Higgins plays differs so much from that of Tim McGee (1986-92), the No. 10 position battle was one of the toughest on the list. But when comparing each player against his peers, Higgins has a slight edge.

In the three main receiving categories, Higgins already has four top-25 single-season performances in four years. McGee had four in his entire eight-year career, three of which came in his best season of 1989 when he ranked ninth in yards (1,211), 12th in touchdowns (eight), and 18th in receptions (65).

Higgins needs two touchdowns and 26 receptions to pass McGee for 11th place in team history, and he needs 1,020 yards to top McGee in that category.

Neither receiver has a Pro Bowl on his résumé, and Higgins has helped the Bengals win five postseason games compared to McGee’s three.

9) Darnay Scott (1994-2001)

The owner of one of the longest receiving touchdowns in team history and 12 scoring catches of at least 40 yards, Darnay Scott was arguably the most consistent wide receiver to don a Cincinnati uniform.

The second-round pick out of San Diego State had six seasons in a seven-year span in which he had between 797 yards and 866 yards. The only exception was his sixth season when he logged a career-high 1,022 in 1999.

After nabbing 46 passes as a rookie, Scott was between 51 and 58 in five of his next six seasons (68 in 1999). And he caught five touchdown passes in each of his first four seasons and seven in each of the next two.

He ranks tied for seventh in receiving touchdowns (36) and eighth in receptions (386) and yards (5,975).

While consistent year to year, Scott was explosive play to play. His 85-yard touchdown catch from Jeff Blake in 1995 remains the third-longest in team history, and his 15.48 yards per reception ranks fifth.

Only Isaac Curtis (15), Chad Johnson (13), and Green (13) had more 40-yard touchdowns than Scott, who finished tied for first in the league in that category in both his first and final seasons with the team.

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8) Eddie Brown (1985-1991)

The No. 13 pick in 1985 and a South Florida native who helped the Miami Hurricanes win their first national title in 1983, Eddie Brown capped his greatest season with the Bengals in his hometown by playing in Super Bowl 23.

Brown ranked third in the league with a career-high 1,273 yards during that 1988 season, earning his lone Pro Bowl invitation. His 24.0 yards per catch led the NFL that year and stands as the highest mark in Bengals history.

His five 100-yard games in ’88 rank second in franchise history to Green (six).

The 1985 Offensive Rookie of the Year Brown had six career touchdowns of at least 60 yards (fourth in team history), and his career average of 16.90 yards per catch falls just shy of Curtis’ team-record 17.07.

He ranks fifth in touchdowns (41), sixth in yards (6,134), and ninth in receptions (386).

7) T.J. Houshmandzadeh (2001-08)

The only player on the list who was drafted after the second round, T.J. Houshmandzadeh turned a seventh-round selection into an eight-year career in which he cemented himself as one of the best receivers in team history.

The single-season record holder for receptions in a season with 112 in 2007, Houshmandzadeh ranks fifth in team history in receptions (507), sixth in touchdowns (37) and ninth in yards (5,782).

He led the NFL with 112 receptions in 2007, which still stands as the franchise record.

The 27th receiver of 34 drafted in 2001, Houshmandzadeh finished with the fifth most receptions in the draft class and was sixth in yards and touchdowns.

6) Cris Collinsworth (1981-88)

A second-round pick out of Florida, Cris Collinsworth bookended his career with Super Bowl trips, reaching Super Bowl 16 as a rookie before playing the final game of his professional career in Super Bowl 23.

The years between, though void of playoff wins, were filled with production.

Collinsworth retired as the franchise leader in receptions with 417 and ranked second behind Curtis in yards (6,698) and touchdowns (36). He still stands fifth in yards, sixth in receptions, and seventh in touchdowns.

Collinsworth’s 16.6 yards per catch are the fourth most in team history, and his 18 career 100-yard games rank fifth.

Voted to the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons in the league, Collinsworth finished second to George Rogers in the 1981 Offensive Rookie of the Year voting. He was the first player after the 1970 merger to have at least 2,650 yards through his first three seasons (2,839).

Collinsworth was a part of four playoff victories, one shy of the team record shared by many, and he’s tied with Higgins and Chase for the most 100-yard performances in the postseason with two.

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5) Isaac Curtis (1973-84)

The only position battle on the list on par with Higgins-McGee at No. 10 was Collinsworth-Curtis for No. 5. But it was Curtis’ explosiveness during a time when there wasn’t a lot of it — during the first half of his career — that gave him the edge on Collinsworth.

The two played four seasons together from 1981-84, so they essentially worked in the same era. And while Collinsworth finished in the top 20 in single-season catches, yards, and/or receptions 13 times compared to Curtis’ eight, it was the No. 15 pick in 1973’s big-play ability that nudges him in front.

Curtis’ 17.07 yards per catch during his career not only is a Cincinnati record, but he led the league in 1975 with a 21.2 mark and ranked third as a rookie with 18.7 yards per catch.

Curtis needed just 3+ seasons to become the franchise leader in yards and touchdowns. And by the time he retired, he had massive leads in all three categories — 3,273 more yards than any player in the first 17 years of the franchise, 170 more receptions, and 33 more touchdowns.

The four-time Pro Bowler still ranks in the top four in team history in yards (7,101, third) and touchdowns (53, fourth), and he is seventh in receptions (416).

4) Ja’Marr Chase (2021-Present)

The night Chase was drafted with the No. 5 pick in 2021, he declared he was coming to Cincinnati to break all the records, and he is well on his way.

The 2021 Offensive Rookie of the Year already owns or shares franchise records for single-game receptions (15), single-game receiving yards (266), and single-season receiving yards (1,455).

And he’s alone or tied for second on the career list in single-season catches (100), single-season 100-yard games (five), single-season touchdowns (13), and single-game touchdowns (three).

Chase ranks seventh in NFL history for most receptions, yards, and touchdowns through the first three seasons of a career, and he is tied with Green for first in TDs (29) among Bengals.

He is second to Green in catches (268) and yards (3,717).

Chase is under contract for at least two more seasons, and all expectations are that the Bengals will sign him to an extension that should keep him in Cincinnati until close to the end of the decade. By then, he should own every record, as he predicted.

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3) Carl Pickens (1992-99)

One of the few Bengals who have continuously rebuffed every effort by the franchise to reconnect with former players, Carl Pickens’ induction to the Ring of Honor should be coming soon, and it will be interesting to see whether he shows up or even acknowledges it.

Personality and relationship issues aside, Pickens is one of the top receivers to ever play in Cincinnati.

A second-round pick in 1992, Pickens won the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award in what was arguably the worst rookie class in history (kicker Jason Hanson was third and David Klinger was fifth with just 47 completions and 530 passing yards).

A modest 26-catch, 326-yard rookie campaign for Pickens was nowhere close to what was to come. Pickens topped 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons and four of five, and he reached double-digit touchdowns in three straight, including a team-record 17 in 1995, earning his first of two Pro Bowl selections.

The 17 touchdown catches remain tied for sixth all-time, and he’s one of 10 receivers in NFL history to catch at least 11 TD passes in three consecutive seasons.

Pickens ranks in the top four in each of the three main categories: third in touchdowns (63) and receptions (530) and fourth in yards (6,887).

He is the only player in Cincinnati history with two seasons of at least 99 catches, and his 13 receptions in a game stood as the team record until Chase caught 15 at Arizona in 2023.

2) A.J. Green (2011-20)

Had it not been for 2019, when he milked an injury on the first day of training camp into a full-season absence, Green would have had a chance to land at No. 1 on this list.

But that lost season — when the team didn’t put him on injured reserve until Dec. 22, five months after the injury — left Green 1,343 yards, 102 catches, and one touchdown shy of the franchise records.

Still, his career numbers are impressive with 649 catches, 9,430 yards, and 65 touchdowns as a Bengal.

Green’s seven Pro Bowls, which came in his first seven seasons, are third most in franchise history behind offensive tackle Anthony Muñoz and defensive tackle Geno Atkins. Only Muñoz had more consecutive Pro Bowl nods (11).

The No. 4 pick in 2011, Green holds the franchise record for most 100-yard games in a career (33), in a season (six), and in consecutive games (five).

Green also was the first Cincinnati receiver to have multiple 200-yard games (Chase has since tied him). And he ranks fourth and tied for fifth in single-season receptions with 98 in 2013 and 97 in 2012.

1) Chad Johnson (2001-10)

The 2001 second-rounder has thus far fallen short of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, an honor he predicted by donning a gold jacket in a touchdown celebration stunt in 2007. But he is the clear choice as the best receiver in Cincinnati history … for now.

Many remember Johnson more for his creative and humorous celebrations than his incredible on-field production that made him the franchise leader in yards (10,783), touchdowns (66), and receptions (751).

Those numbers were among the best in the NFL during Johnson’s 10 seasons in Cincinnati when he ranked third in the league in yards and seventh in receptions and touchdowns.

He owns three of the top five single-season receiving totals with 1,440 in 2007 (second), 1,432 in 2005 (third), and 1,369 in 2006 (fifth). Johnson is one of nine receivers in NFL history to have at least 1,369 yards in three consecutive seasons.

His 260-yard game against the San Diego Chargers in 2006 stood as the team record until Chase put up 266 in 2021, which also helped push the rookie past Johnson’s single-season record of 1,440.

Johnson’s 31 100-yard games are second to Green, and he’s the only player in team history to have three seasons with at least five 100-yard games.

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