Bengals reportedly decline WR John Ross’ fifth-year option

The Cincinnati Bengals declined the fifth-year option for former first-round pick John Ross on Saturday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Ross was selected by the Bengals with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2017 draft. The wide receiver will now be under contract with the team through the end of next season, and can hit the open market in 2021.

The 25-year-old recorded 506 yards and three touchdowns on 28 receptions in eight games last season for the Bengals. He spent eight weeks on the team’s injured reserve list last year after suffering a brutal chest injury in Week 4, when the sternoclavicular joint in his chest came about an inch away from puncturing an artery, something that nearly killed him.

“I asked [the doctor], ‘Could it be life-threatening?’ And he said, ‘Definitely,’ ” Ross said in December, via ESPN. “He said it was a couple inches off or something like that from hitting the artery. I didn’t want to know any more after that. I said, ‘As long as you fix me, I’m fine.’ ”

Ross has yet to play a full season in the league, having missed 13 games in his rookie season with a shoulder injury. He ended up playing just 17 snaps. He missed three games during the 2018 season, too, recording just 210 yards and seven touchdowns in 31 games that year. 

He initially signed a four-year, $17 million rookie deal, and is the latest former first-rounder to have his fifth-year option declined. The Chicago Bears opted to pass on quarterback Mitchell Trubisky’s option on Saturday, and the Jacksonville Jaguars passed on running back Leonard Fournette’s this week, too. 

While it’s not necessarily his fault, Ross has yet to establish himself in the league. As he’s now playing for his contract, this season — with No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow leading the team at quarterback — is the perfect, and perhaps final, time for Ross to finally do that.

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross carries the ball during the game against the Cleveland Browns on Dec. 29, 2019, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images)

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