What do the Bengals do next with John Ross?

John Ross
John Ross /

Where do the Bengals go after keeping disgruntled wide receiver John Ross following the expiration of the NFL trade deadline on Tuesday?

Bengals wide receiver John Ross has been disgruntled about being inactive multiple times this season. Ahead of the Tuesday trading deadline Ross requested a trade. That trade did not come through and now the question becomes is where do the Bengals go next with Ross? Cincinnati will likely lose Ross in free agency.

Losing Ross will not be impactful to the Bengals roster but trading the ninth pick in the 2017 NFL Draft and receiving a draft choice or development player would have almost literally been getting something for nothing.

The Bengals’ decision to keep Ross was not surprising with a history of scant activity at the trading deadline. Ross being inactive for the last three games did not help his trade value. The playing time for Ross in the second half of the season will have no impact on the free agent after the season.

Ross is listed on the depth chart behind rookie Tee Higgins who has 33 receptions for 488 yards and three TDs through eight games. The emergence of Higgins and Tyler Boyd on pace to set career highs has led to Ross being benched. Injuries and inconsistency have doomed Ross throughout his Bengals career.

Ross has two receptions for 17 yards on seven targets this season. The 28.6 catch percentage is by far the Bengals lowest. A.J. Green is second catching 49.2 percent of his targets. There was some thought that Ross would be traded after Carlos Dunlap was dealt to Seattle. Dunlap gave the Bengals no choice after a sideline blowup.

The Bengals’ inability or unwillingness to trade Ross hurts both parties. Ross would have had a chance to prove himself with a new team and the Bengals would have at the least received a late-round draft pick instead of letting him walk in free agency. Playing Ross now could disrupt the rhythm Burrow has built with his WRs.

There have been some suggestions for Ross to be used on special teams. Ross has not returned kicks in the NFL. Ross was an elite kick returner at Washington averaging 24.2 yards per return. That was three years ago and Brandon Wilson is eighth in the NFL averaging 24.7 yards per kickoff return.

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The likelihood for Ross for the remainder of the season will be for him to practice on the scout team and only receive playing time if Boyd, Green, Higgins, or Auden Tate get hurt. Ross will become the latest Bengals draft bust. With Burrow, the Bengals future should be bright and helped most WRs succeed.