John Ross

Giants To Sign John Ross

The Giants were rumored to be looking for another receiver this offseason, and now they’ve found one. New York has agreed to terms on a deal with receiver John Ross, a source told Mike Garafolo of NFL Network (Twitter link).

It’s a one-year, $2.5MM deal that includes $1MM in guaranteed money, Garafolo reports. The move isn’t necessarily the big splash many Giants fans have been waiting for, but it’s a nice low-risk flyer with significant upside. Ross is well known for being the ninth overall pick in 2017, as well as his legendary NFL Combine 40-time of 4.22.

Things didn’t go as planned with the Bengals nearly immediately, and his four years in Cincinnati were an abject disaster. He struggled with injuries, playing in three, 13, eight, and three games during his four seasons there. He finished his run with 51 catches for 733 yards and ten touchdowns, a pitiful sum for a top ten pick.

Needless to say, the team didn’t exercise his fifth-year option and returning to Cincy was never in the cards. He’s obviously got game-breaking speed, and showed plenty of flashes during the 2019 season when he had 506 yards in only eight games, so the potential is there.

After releasing Golden Tate the Giants don’t have much at all at receiver beyond Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard, as Ross has a realistic path to some playing time in 2021. Keep an eye on this one.

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Bengals Activate Sam Hubbard, Place John Ross On IR

Takkarist McKinley will not make his Bengals debut this week, needing to go through the NFL’s COVID-19 protocol. But the team will have a key pass rusher in uniform after some time away.

The Bengals activated Sam Hubbard from IR Saturday. The third-year defensive end has missed the past three games because of an elbow injury.

Cincinnati also moved John Ross to its IR list. While Ross has not been active since Week 6 and has not caught a pass since Week 1, he has run into multiple injury issues during another disappointing season. After a foot injury shelved him recently, more foot trouble emerged in practice this week, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets.

This setback came shortly after Bengals coaches had a conversation with Ross about working as a cornerback, Garafolo notes, but the injury came on a play in which Ross was playing his usual position. None of this is good for a player who joined the Bengals as a top-10 pick.

The team did not pick up Ross’ option and has not featured him prominently this season, using younger players Tee Higgins and Auden Tate over Ross. While Ross requested a trade, the Bengals did not move him. Ross’ contract expires at season’s end. The Combine’s 40-yard dash record holder is not on track to enter free agency with much momentum.

Hubbard will return to a defensive line that no longer houses Carlos Dunlap, whom the Bengals traded during Hubbard’s injury hiatus. Hubbard will rejoin Carl Lawson in Cincy’s lineup, while McKinley — added on waivers this week — is set to join the incumbents next week.

The Bengals also placed cornerback Darius Phillips on IR and promoted guard Quinton Spain, wide receiver Stanley Morgan, cornerback Jalen Davis and defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie ahead of their matchup with the Steelers.

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Trade Rumors: Thomas, Njoku, Watt, Jets

Saints head coach Sean Payton has said his team has no interest in trading star receiver Michael Thomas, though Thomas’ camp was recently said to be looking for potential deals. There has been no movement towards a Thomas trade, and whether that’s because New Orleans has no interest in dealing him or because the club has not received an offer it likes, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says Thomas will stay put.

With the trade deadline two days away, let’s round up a few more rumors on players who could be on the move:

  • The Browns don’t want to trade tight end David Njoku, but Njoku has renewed his request to be dealt, and Rapoport says Cleveland has been fielding calls on the former first-rounder. It may take at least a fourth-round pick to get a deal done, but with Austin Hooper set to return and with the emergence of rookie Harrison Bryant, the Browns may elect to move Njoku.
  • Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that the Texans are at the center of the trade market, with one executive saying Houston could move as many as five players if it wants to. Rapoport expects the Packersinterest in Will Fuller — which dates back to the summer — to ramp up, but it will likely take a high pick to convince the Texans to move Fuller. Fellow WR Kenny Stills has also drawn some interest, though rival clubs see the contracts for Stills and Randall Cobb as prohibitive. DE J.J. Watt may be receptive to a trade, but considering his contract and age, other teams probably don’t value him like the Texans do.
  • The Jets have received calls on LB Avery Williamson, OTs George Fant and Chuma Edoga, and CB Quincy Wilson, per Albert Breer of SI.com. Rich Cimini of ESPN.com says the Steelers — who recently lost Devin Bush for the season — could be in the market for Williamson, and Edoga also seems like a good bet to be dealt since he does not look like a fit with the current regime.
  • La Canfora says teams have also called the Jets about WR Breshad Perriman and TE Chris Herndon, though Breer notes that safety Marcus Maye has not drawn much interest.
  • Rapoport names Dolphins RB Jordan Howard and Seahawks TE Jacob Hollister as two other players who could be moved. And though the Bengals are shopping disgruntled wideout John Ross, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com says there hasn’t been interest in Ross (Twitter link).

Bengals Shopping WR John Ross

John Ross reiterated his request to be traded Friday, and the Bengals may be attempting to accommodate the disgruntled deep threat.

The Bengals, who have made Ross a healthy scratch at times this season, have made calls on the fourth-year wide receiver, Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets.

He of a Combine-record 4.22-second 40-yard dash, Ross is listed as questionable with an illness for Sunday’s Bengals-Titans game. Ross disputed this designation, indicating (via Twitter) he is healthy and dissatisfied with his role. Ross has just two catches for 17 yards this season.

Cincinnati has already unloaded Carlos Dunlap after his weeks-long dissatisfaction spree, and the team is covered at wide receiver. The Bengals have used A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd and second-round pick Tee Higgins as their top three wideouts. Auden Tate, who came up in trade rumors after being a healthy scratch earlier this season, also still resides on the Bengals’ roster. Tate is controlled beyond 2020; Ross is not.

Despite the Dunlap deal, however, the Bengals are not known for aggressiveness in trades. The rebuilding team is not willing to deal 11th-year defensive tackle Geno Atkins, and Sirius XM Radio’s Adam Caplan threw cold water on the prospect of a trade. The Bengals would rather let Ross walk in March than deal him now, per Caplan (on Twitter). Teams are interested in Ross, per Caplan, which would make an anti-trade stance rather confusing.

Ross’ injury troubles led the Bengals to pass on his fifth-year option. The ex-Washington Husky, however, has shown intermittent promise. He caught seven touchdown passes in 2018 and surpassed 500 receiving yards in eight games last season. This and his elite speed would make Ross an interesting trade chip ahead of Tuesday’s deadline.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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