The Cincinnati Bengals are placing wide receiver John Ross on the trading block, per NFL reporter Tony Pauline. The team plans to listen to trade offers at the Combine this week, and the Buffalo Bills had better be one of the teams making a call.
Ross was the ninth overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, selected so high because of an 81/1150/17 receiving slash and a record-breaking 4.22 forty yard dash at the NFL Combine. His pro career has been less impressive, in part because of injuries and in part because of Marvin Lewis’s preference to play veterans over rookies. In two seasons with the Bengals, Ross appeared in 16 games and started 11. He caught 21-of-60 targets for 210 yards and seven touchdowns.
Ross’s major asterisk was always his health. He had a torn meniscus and underwent microfracture surgery in 2014. Then he suffered a torn meniscus and a torn ACL on his other leg in 2015. Ross underwent labrum surgery in 2017, and underwent surgery for his other shoulder at the end of the 2018 season. All but one of those injuries came before his pro career started, but it raises a concern about his availability, and makes it difficult to justify his first-round billing.
But as a reclamation project, with a mid-to-late round pick offered, Ross makes perfect sense for the Bills. Schematically, Ross is exactly what this Bills offense desires: A fast, agile weapon who can win vertically downfield or earn yards on jet sweeps. He’s also an outstanding red-zone threat, in spite of his size. Over the past three seasons (one in college and two in the pros), he caught 27 passes for 222 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Now entering his third NFL season, Ross has worked through the growing pains that a rookie receiver would face. Andy Dalton had trouble connecting downfield with Ross, but that wouldn’t be an issue for the rocket-armed Josh Allen. Much like Buffalo’s choice to trade a draft asset for Corey Coleman last season, Ross would be a low-cost, high-reward move for the team to make. If the trade doesn’t pan out, at worst the Bills have lost a day-three pick in the rookie draft. If he works out, the team has a trio of young, talented receivers to grow alongside Allen.