This won’t come as much of a surprise, but the Bengals have declined wide receiver John Ross‘ fifth-year option. Ross will therefore become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2020 season.
As a 2017 draft choice, Ross’ fifth-year option would have been guaranteed for injury only, but given his injury history, that was not a gamble Cincinnati was willing to take. Plus, as a top-10 pick in the 2017 draft, Ross’ option would have been worth a whopping $15.68MM, which would not have made sense for the team even if Ross had managed to stay completely healthy throughout his first three years in the league.
The Washington product was brought in to serve as a speed merchant and to add some sizzle to a passing offense that had become a middling unit despite the presence of A.J. Green. That did not happen. Instead, he failed to impress head coach Marvin Lewis in training camp in 2017, and between injuries and generally uninspiring play in practice, Ross played in only three games as a rookie and did not record a catch.
Though he started 10 games in 2018, he managed only 21 catches for 210 yards — which was a disappointment in terms of both overall output and yards-per-catch average — and after a hot start to 2019, he missed another eight games due to injury. The Bengals selected promising Clemson product Tee Higgins with the first pick of the second round in this year’s draft, and they are clearly preparing for life without Ross (which will probably look strikingly similar to life with Ross).
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