Bengals Rumors

Bengals’ John Ross Designated For Return

Bengals wide receiver John Ross has been designated to return from injured reserve, per a club announcement. He’ll be eligible to play in Week 13, following a few weeks of practice. 

Ross, the No. 9 overall pick of the 2017 draft, was written off by many as a bust, but was finally starting to make an impact this year. Injuries and a lack of trust from Marvin Lewis had plagued Ross’ first two years in Cincy, but he started the season with 16 catches for 328 yards and 3 touchdowns in four games.

There’s now reason to believe that Ross could blossom into the top-level deep threat the Bengals were hoping for back in 2017. This is, of course, a lost season for the 0-9 Bengals, but it’s a ripe opportunity for Ross to work his way back from his shoulder injury and cement his place in the team’s plans moving forward. The Bengals figure to make lots of changes this offseason, but Ross figures to be an integral part of the offense in 2020.

Ross remains under his rookie deal, which runs through 2020. He’ll carry a $5.45MM cap number in his final year, but the Bengals can add a fifth season via his rookie option.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

TE Drew Sample Suffered High Ankle Sprain

  • Bengals tight end Drew Sample suffered a high ankle sprain this past weekend, reports NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter). The 2019 second-rounder will undergo additional tests to determine how much time he’ll miss, but Rapoport notes that he’s a candidate for the injured reserve. The rookie has hauled in five catches for 30 yards in nine games (two starts) this season.

    [SOURCE LINK]

Bengals Cut LB Preston Brown

The Bengals have cut linebacker Preston Brown, as Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports (via Twitter). Brown signed a three-year pact with Cincinnati this offseason, but he will not even see the end of the first year of that deal.

Brown did start every game for his hometown Bengals this season before the team replaced him in the starting lineup with third-round rookie Germaine Pratt for Sunday’s loss to the Ravens. Brown ultimately played just 17 defensive snaps on Sunday, his lowest snap count of the season.

The Bills selected Brown in the third round of the 2014 draft, but even after a solid platform year with Buffalo in 2017, the Bills opted against re-signing him. Brown ultimately accepted a one-year, $4MM deal with the Bengals in 2018, and then he re-upped with Cincinnati in March 2019.

Brown succumbed to injury for the first time in his career in 2018, as he played in just seven games for the Bengals after appearing in all 64 possible games for the Bills over his first four years in the league. But while he has managed to stay healthy in 2019, he has not played particularly well, especially in coverage. The fact that the Bengals cut ties less than one year into his three-year contract is not a good look for Brown.

Still, he just turned 27 and is owed only $400K for the rest of the season. As such, a team in need of a veteran LB with plenty of starting experience could put in a waiver claim, especially since such a team could cut him again this offseason with fairly minimal dead money ramifications. And if he clears waivers, he may not last too long on the open market.

Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic expects the Bengals to clean out most of their LB room this offseason, and he suggests that only Pratt will be retained for 2020 (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC North Notes: Tomlin, Green, Browns

There may be plenty of Steelers fans unhappy with head coach Mike Tomlin, but he has navigated his team through some turbulent waters over the last couple of seasons, and after starting the 2019 campaign 0-3 and losing Ben Roethlisberger to injury, Pittsburgh is now 4-4 and is back in the AFC playoff picture. As Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com writes, Steelers players believe Tomlin is in the midst of one of his finest coaching performances, and that should go a long way towards quieting outside criticism. Thanks to an (admittedly unusual) one-year extension that he signed in July, Tomlin is under contract through 2021, and his standing within the organization seems strong.

Now for more from the AFC North:

  • Bengals WR A.J. Green will miss Sunday’s game against the Ravens after it was initially reported that he would be making his 2019 debut against Baltimore, and Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic believes the sudden turn of events could suggest that Green is preparing to sit out for the remainder of the season (which may be what he wanted all along). However, Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network observed that Green was working out on the field Sunday morning and says his ankle will be reassessed this week (Twitter link). As of right now, the team is not planning on shutting Green down for the year.
  • In addition to Green, the Bengals have been without LT Cordy Glenn all year. As Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, Glenn is still taking scout-team reps in practice, and it’s unclear whether he will be activated at all in 2019. Of course, Glenn and the Bengals are at odds over the team’s handling of his concussion, so it’s possible Glenn has already played his last snap for Cincinnati.
  • Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says the Browns‘ analytics department believed Vikings OC Kevin Stefanski, not Freddie Kitchens, was the right man for Cleveland’s head coaching job. Of course, the Browns went against that recommendation, but given the club’s disappointing 2019 season, the team could be back in the market for an HC in 2020, and if that happens, Stefanski — who was reportedly the runner-up to Kitchens — should be on the short list of potential replacements.
  • Browns RB Kareem Hunt will make his Cleveland debut against the Bills on Sunday after serving an eight-game suspension, and La Canfora says Hunt is expected to be a major part of the team’s offense right away. Even more importantly, Hunt has not only fulfilled all of the league’s requirements for reinstatement, but he has taken on a number of non-mandatory responsibilities. Per La Canfora, Hunt meets with women’s groups, participates in community service, and continues to speak to a counselor regularly.

A.J. Green Will Not Play In Week 10

Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green will not make his 2019 season debut on Sunday after all, as the veteran pass-catcher told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com (Twitter link). Green’s experienced ankle swelling during Cincinnati’s walkthrough on Wednesday, and the issue is serious enough to prevent him from playing against the Ravens in Week 10.

Green, of course, hasn’t played a single snap this season after suffering ankle damage during training camp. The Bengals opted not to put him on injured reserve to start the year, which would have mandated an absence of at least eight games. Green, clearly, has already missed that requisite amount of time, meaning Cincinnati has been playing a man down all year long.

The Bengals are reportedly not close to an extension with Green, who will become a free agent at season’s end. The former first-round pick has been adamant that he doesn’t want to be assigned the franchise tag next offseason, and it’s unclear if Cincinnati will honor that request.

“I don’t really care about (the contract negotiations),” Green told Jay Morrison of The Athletic (Twitter link). “If they’re worried about me not playing or not being healthy, then there’s 32 teams out there. I’m not really worried about that situation.”

Green became the NFL’s highest-paid receiver in 2015 after inking a four-year, $60MM extension, but his $15MM average annual value now ranks 11th at the position. The former No. 4 overall selection will be 32 years old when the 2020 campaign gets underway, and Green’s recent injury history — at least six missed games in 2016, 2018, and 2019 — will certainly factor into his asking price, but he should still be expected to command a lucrative multi-year deal if he does hit the free agent market.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On A.J. Green

Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green had been expected to return to game action in Week 10 against the Ravens, and head coach Zac Taylor even confirmed as much this morning, per Paul Dehner of The Athletic (Twitter link). However, Green didn’t practice Wednesday after experiencing ankle swelling during Cincinnati’s walkthrough and is now considered day-to-day, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL.com, so it’s unclear if Green will still be ready for Baltimore. Green hasn’t played a single snap this year after suffering ankle damage during the preseason. When he does return, he’ll be catching passes from a new quarterback (rookie Ryan Finley) as he makes his case for an extension.

NFL Workout Updates: 11/5/19

Today’s workout notes:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

  • OL Brandon Hitner

Cincinnati Bengals

Miami Dolphins

San Francisco 49ers

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 11/5/19

Today’s practice squad moves:

Atlanta Falcons

Buffalo Bills

  • Signed: OL Brandon Hitner

Baltimore Ravens

  • Signed: DE Michael Onuoha

Cincinnati Bengals

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Signed: DB Tevaughn Campbell

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Signed: DE Quinton Bell

Tennessee Titans

  • Signed: WR Rashard Davis

Deadline Fallout: Harris, Jets, L. Williams

Despite a great deal of hype, Tuesday’s trade deadline went out with a whimper. As Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes, that was largely because the presumed sellers — most notably the Bengals, Redskins, and Broncos — overvalued their assets. It was expected that Cincinnati’s and Washington’s stubbornness could torpedo potential deals, but Denver was similarly obstinate. For instance, the Broncos were asking for a second-round draft pick for CB Chris Harris when the market dictated that a fourth-rounder would be an appropriate return.

Now for more deadline fallout:

  • Jets RB Le’Veon Bell recently said that his former club, the Steelers, were interested in re-acquiring him in advance of the trade deadline, and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com confirms that Pittsburgh did indeed speak with the Jets about Bell. However, when it became clear that the shoulder injury that James Conner sustained in the Steelers’ win over Miami last Monday wasn’t as serious as it first appeared, talks with Gang Green cooled. Bell wasn’t the only RB the Steelers were interested in, per Schefter, but he was easily the most prominent.
  • At least one team tried to blow the Jets away with an offer for defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, as Schefter writes in a separate piece. The unnamed club thought New York would be unable to turn down the blockbuster package of draft picks, but Williams was deemed untouchable by the Jets’ front office, and Gang Green stuck to its guns.
  • We already heard that the Giants would try to work out a contract extension with the newly-acquired Leonard Williams, but Schefter says Big Blue will open negotiations before Thanksgiving. Of course, it could be difficult for player and team to agree on Williams’ value, and Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com believes that Williams is going to test free agency (Twitter link).
  • The Rams traded Aqib Talib to the Dolphins in a pure salary dump, as they gave Miami a 2020 fifth-rounder just to take on the remainder of Talib’s contract. Peter Schrager of the NFL Network says Talib believes he will be healthy enough to return to the field this season but is unsure as to whether he will suit up for Miami (Twitter link). He may elect to cool his heels before he hits the open market in March, but he holds no ill will towards LA.

Andy Dalton Eager To Be Traded In 2020

The fact that the Bengals decided to bench quarterback Andy Dalton right before last Tuesday’s trade deadline did not give Dalton’s agent enough time to find a trade partner, so the Red Rifle will remain with Cincinnati through the 2019 campaign and will serve as rookie Ryan Finley‘s clipboard holder.

Dalton expressed his disappointment with the team’s decision to demote him, and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says the 32-year-old signal-caller is eager to be traded this offseason. 2020 is the last year of Dalton’s current contract — and Cincinnati can cut him without incurring any dead money penalties — but his $17.5MM salary next year is relatively palatable, and a number of QB-needy clubs could be interested in sending some draft capital to the Bengals to secure Dalton’s services.

Several GMs that La Canfora spoke with named the Buccaneers as a potential landing spot for Dalton. Indeed, Tampa Bay has plenty of talent at wide receiver and tight end and a strong enough O-line, and Dalton has proven that he can be successful with a solid grouping of talent around him. Plus, Bucs head coach Bruce Arians is not likely going to want to rebuild with a rookie QB, and trading for Dalton is looking like a better option than re-signing Jameis Winston at the moment.

The Titans and Bears may also be interested in Dalton, and depending on what Tom Brady and Philip Rivers decide to do, the Patriots and Chargers could end up as potential suitors as well. La Canfora’s sources say the Bengals should be able to net a 2020 second-round pick in exchange for their 2011 second-rounder.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.