John Ross

Bengals’ John Ross Requests Trade

After playing just one snap on Sunday, Bengals wide receiver John Ross is seeking a fresh start. This week, agent Brad Cicala went to the team officials to request a trade, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. 

Ross was a healthy scratch for much of the season leading up to Sunday’s game. The Bengals didn’t make any promises after talking to his agent, but they’ve got a couple of weeks to explore options before the Nov. 3 deadline.

Ross, the former No. 9 overall pick in the draft, has yet to turn his speed into pro success. Health has played a big part in Ross’ struggles – due to various injuries and his inability to impress then-head coach Marvin Lewis, Ross played in just one game as a rookie. Though he started ten games in 2018, he managed only 21 catches for 210 yards, a disappointment in terms of both overall output and yards-per-catch average. Then, after a hot start to 2019, he missed another eight games due to injury.

In three pro seasons-and-change, Ross has played a grand total of 26 games. At times, when healthy and on the field, he’s dazzled. Ross looked like a monster in the making after is Week 1 performance against the Seahawks last year, going off for seven catches, 158 yards, and two scores. In Week 2 against the 49ers, he topped 100 yards once again, and he did it with just four receptions. After that, Ross missed all of October and November due to injury and did not post another 100-yard game.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/23/20

Here are today’s minor moves:

Atlanta Falcons

  • Signed: OT Ka’John Armstrong

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

New England Patriots

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

AFC North Notes: Bengals, Wilson, Ravens

After leaving for Los Angeles to care for his coronavirus-stricken son, John Ross has returned to the Bengals. The fourth-year wide receiver, however, has landed on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com notes (video link). Ross’ son and the baby’s mother tested positive for COVID-19. Pending no positive virus tests, Ross can return to action as soon as Saturday.

Moving first to a Browns injury situation, here is the latest from the AFC North:

  • Browns linebacker Mack Wilson is awaiting word on the severity of a knee injury he suffered in practice recently. The Cleveland starter is expected to miss several weeks because of a knee hyperextension, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link). No tear is believed to have occurred, per Rapoport, but surgery appears to still be on the table. That would put Wilson’s season in jeopardy. With the Browns having disbanded their veteran linebacking corps over the past year and change, Wilson is now the team’s longest-tenured starter at that position. The 2019 fifth-round pick made 14 starts as a rookie.
  • Bengals safety Shawn Williams has also run into injury trouble. The eighth-year defender was carted off during a recent practice with a calf ailment. Williams has sought a second opinion, and NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero writes optimism exists the longtime starter can return in time for the Bengals’ Week 1 game (Twitter link). Williams has been a starter for the past four seasons, but the Bengals signing former Saints starter Vonn Bell could potentially cloud Williams’ role.
  • Nine months after tearing his ACL, PCL and MCL and dislocating his kneecap, Matt Skura returned to practice. The Ravens‘ first-string center passed his physical and was back in time for the team’s first padded practice, the team announced. Skura’s return, in a contract year, would be key for a Ravens team that saw potential Hall of Fame guard Marshal Yanda retire after 13 seasons.
  • It appears the Ravens will put their sixth-round pick to work quickly. Wide receiver James Proche is on track to be the team’s punt returner, but Baltimore special teams coordinator Chris Horton said (via The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec, on Twitter) the SMU product is a candidate to return kicks as well. The Ravens recently signed veteran return man Kenjon Barner, so Proche still being in contention for the kick-return role is interesting.

Bengals’ WR John Ross Leaves Team To Care For Son

Bengals WR John Ross is stepping away from the team for a bit, as Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reports (via Twitter). Ross’ son has tested positive for COVID-19, so Ross is heading to Los Angeles to care for him (the child’s mother has also tested positive). There is currently no timetable on Ross’ return, and the club is likely to place him on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Ross’ decision is admirable, especially since it comes during a pivotal time in his NFL career. The No. 9 overall pick of the 2017 draft, Ross has fallen well short of expectations to date, and Cincinnati made the easy call to decline his fifth-year option for 2021. So this will be a contract year for Ross, who could position himself well for a big payday next offseason if he can get on the field and start living up to his potential.

Of course, health has played a big part in Ross’ struggles to date. Due to various injuries and his inability to impress then-head coach Marvin Lewis, Ross played in just one game in his rookie campaign. 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.

Now, A.J. Green is back to full health and the Bengals added Tee Higgins in the second round of this year’s draft, so Ross may have struggled to carve out a ton of playing time anyway. His absence will only make things more difficult from a football perspective, but obviously the health of his family is of paramount importance.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Make-Or-Break Year: Bengals WR John Ross

In 2017, the Bengals had the No. 9 overall pick and two clear top needs. First, there was the defensive end position, where they were hoping to upgrade from Michael Johnson after another so-so season. They were also out to find a young and athletic wide receiver to help take the pressure off of A.J. Green. John Ross, who wowed scouts with a 4.22-second 40-yard-dash time, fit the bill at WR, though many figured the Bengals would trade down to take him.

[RELATED: Bengals Rejected Trades For William Jackson III]

Instead, they stood pat and used their top pick to take Ross. At the time, many said that it was a reach – the Washington product’s speed was undeniably impressive, but his medical history was extensive. In 2015, he tore his ACL and missed the entire season. And, after his impressive combine showing, he underwent labrum surgery. In short, evaluators loved him, but most viewed him as a one-contract player rather than a long-term investment.

So far, Ross hasn’t done much to prove the critics wrong. In three pro seasons, Ross has played a grand total of 24 games. At times, when healthy and on the field, he’s dazzled. Ross looked like a monster in the making after is Week 1 performance against the Seahawks last year, going off for seven catches, 158 yards, and two scores. In Week 2 against the 49ers, he topped 100 yards once again, and he did it with just four receptions. After that, Ross missed all of October and November due to injury and did not post another 100-yard game.

As expected, the Bengals declined Ross’ fifth-year option in May, turning down a one-year, $15.68MM add-on that would have guaranteed his 2021 season for injury. Even more concerning for Ross’ Cincinnati future, the club used the first pick of the second round to select Tee Higgins, who is fresh off of a ~1,200-yard season at Clemson. The Bengals haven’t quite written Ross off, but they’re not planning around him either.

With one year left on Ross’ original rookie contract, the story on him is roughly the same as it was three years ago – Ross has the speed and skills to dominate the league, but he has not been able to stay healthy and put it all on display. Ross can cash in as a free agent (with the Bengals or one of the league’s other 31 teams) if he turns in a full and productive season, but he’ll also have to maintain his place in the pecking order. If the majority of Joe Burrow‘s targets go to Green, Higgins, and Tyler Boyd, Ross won’t have much of an opportunity to showcase himself.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals To Decline John Ross’ Fifth-Year Option

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).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Tunsil, Dalton, Ross, Bengals

Texans left tackle Laremy Tunsil recently landed a three-year, $66MM extension that easily made him the league’s highest-paid offensive lineman, and he did it without an agent. Tunsil negotiated the contract himself and he’s quite happy he did, writes Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com. Tunsil said he thinks he “started a trend by not having an agent doing my deal,” and that he “wanted to reset the market and become the highest-paid offensive linemen just so all the young players under me [know] that anything is possible.”

During the press call Tunsil revealed that he first started talking with the Texans back in February, and that he was insistent on signing a shorter-term deal so he could re-enter free agency again when he was still young. Tunsil is locked up through the 2023 season now, and he’ll still only be 29 when he hits free agency in the spring of 2024. This could become a growing trend in the league, and Tunsil said he spoke with Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner, who also negotiated his own contract, during the process. “You just have to bet on yourself, and that’s what I did, and I got the deal done,” Tunsil declared. “I’m extremely proud of myself and the team. I’m still speechless, even though it was a couple of days ago they made the announcement. I’m still speechless.”

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • The draft came and went, and the Bengals were unable to find any takers for Andy Dalton. They’ve been trying to trade their former starting quarterback for a while, and Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic thinks they will end up releasing him shortly after failing to unload him over the weekend. It looks like Cincy is about to finally give up on trading Dalton and the nearly $18MM he’s owed for 2020. We heard shortly before the draft that the Bengals hadn’t ruled out keeping him, but that was likely just a ploy to try to keep his trade value alive. The game of quarterback musical chairs has pretty much ended, and there aren’t many teams out there still looking for a veteran signal-caller. The Patriots have been rumored as an option, and it’ll be very interesting to see where Dalton ends up signing once he gets released. The Colts apparently sniffed around before opting to sign Philip Rivers.
  • Speaking of the Bengals, the draft also spelled bad news for receiver John Ross. Dehner writes that the selection of former Clemson receiver Tee Higgins at the top of the second-round “does pretty much confirm this will be Ross’ last year in Cincinnati.” The Bengals drafted Ross ninth overall in 2017, and his career got off to a very bumpy start. Injuries limited him to only three games and zero catches as a rookie, and he had only 210 yards in 2018. This past season he got off to a torrid start, racking up 270 yards and three touchdowns in the first two weeks of the season. He cooled off quickly after that though, and ended up missing another eight games due to injury. He finished with 506 yards in eight games, but the progress apparently still didn’t inspire much confidence within the organization. The Bengals will have to decide this week whether or not to pick up Ross’ fifth-year option for 2021, and Dehner makes it sound like that isn’t too likely.

Bengals Activate John Ross

The Bengals have their first win and their former first-round wide receiver back in action. On Tuesday, they officially activated wide receiver John Ross off of the injured reserve list. 

Ross has been out since injuring his sternoclavicular joint in Week 4. Last month, they designated him for return, opening up a multi-week practice window. Now that Ross has been brought back within that timeframe, he’ll be eligible to play again in 2019.

Ross, the No. 9 overall pick in 2017, was written off by many as a bust, but showed some signs of life early on 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 three 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 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. He 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.

To make room for Ross, the team waived rookie wide receiver Damion Willis for the second time this year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Bengals Place John Ross On IR

Receivers are dropping like flies. Just moments after we heard the Chargers were placing Dontrelle Inman on injured reserve, we got word of another wideout hitting the shelf. The Bengals are placing John Ross on IR, according to a tweet from Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic.

Dehner notes that the Bengals have promoted receiver Stanley Morgan from the practice squad in a corresponding roster move, and that it’s a sternocavicular injury for Ross. We heard yesterday that Ross was going to miss some time, but it was initially reported as something that would sideline him for around a month. Now, he’ll have to miss the next eight weeks at least. On the bright side Ross is expected back this season, and the injury had about a six-week timetable but the Bengals wanted to give him extra rest, tweets Mike Garafolo of NFL Network.

It’s a tough blow for Ross, and for the Bengals’ offense. The ninth overall pick of the 2017 draft, who had been written off by many as a bust, was finally starting to make an impact. Injuries and a lack of trust from Marvin Lewis had plagued Ross’ first two years in Cincy, but he had 270 yards through the first two games of this season and was starting to look like the elite deep threat he was supposed to be.

With A.J. Green still not set to return anytime soon, the Bengals’ 0-4 offense is in dire circumstances. Second-year seventh-round pick Auden Tate will now be asked to play a big role moving forward. Morgan is an undrafted rookie from Nebraska who was waived at final cuts.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.