Bengals Rumors: John Ross' 5th-Year Contract Option Declined, Will Be UFA in '21

Blake SchusterCorrespondent IIIMay 2, 2020

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross (11) rushes during the second half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)
Bryan Woolston/Associated Press

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross will hit the open market following the 2020 season. 

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the team has declined the fifth-year option on Ross' rookie deal after drafting the wideout ninth overall in 2017. 

In three seasons with Cincy, Ross has yet to establish himself as a legitimate threat in the offense. Knee and shoulder injuries derailed his rookie year, leaving him able to play in just three games. His second year wasn't much better.

The Washington product recorded only 21 catches for 210 yards in 2018, though he hauled in seven touchdowns during his 13-game season. To date, it's been the highlight of his career with the Bengals. 

As the team cratered in 2019 and became the worst in the league, Ross did little to help get things back on track, ending the year on injured reserve with another shoulder injury. He played in eight games last year, hauling in 28 passes for 506 yards and three scores. As the team gets ready to reboot under No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow, Ross will be playing for his next contract—and potentially the future of his NFL career. 

Despite running the 40-yard dash in 4.22 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine with a 37-inch vertical, Ross has done little to show off those skills as a pro. 

Now he joins a wave of prominent first-rounders from 2017 who have seen their fifth-year options declined. 

Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, the No. 2 pick in 2017, and Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette, the No. 4 pick, each had their options declined earlier this week. 

Ross originally signed with the Bengals for $17.1 million, fully guaranteed.