Will Jermaine Gresham be traded? That's the relevant question as the league enters its 4 p.m. trading deadline on Tuesday.
It all started with an Ian Rapoport report, more than a week ago, saying the Bengals would be willing trade Gresham.
"They already have Eifert coming off an injury", said Rapoport. "It seems they've already replaced him (Gresham). He could be had too."
No follow-up reports have surfaced, nor has there been any reaffirmations that Cincinnati is actually willing to barter Gresham (though Rapoport offered a drive-by tweet), who is playing out the final year of a five-year rookie deal. The argument, aside from the whole "addition by subtractions" is that if Cincinnati does deal Gresham, they'll at least get something for a player that figures to be long gone by next year.
Even if the Bengals make a trade, Cincinnati will be left with Ryan Hewitt and Kevin Brock as their only tight ends until Tyler Eifert returns. That's at least one game against the Jacksonville Jaguars and more if Eifert, recovering from a dislocated elbow, isn't ready.
Don't worry. We're not buying for a second that Gresham will be traded.
Make any excuse that you want, but Gresham is the team's second-leading receiver (28 receptions, which is seven less than Mohamed Sanu). His Pro Football Focus score (+3.4) is the fourth-best on Cincinnati's offense, largely due to his exponentially improved blocking.
And if you're going to blame his drops, then know that he has as many drops as A.J. Green (1) and far less than Sanu, who actually leads the NFL with seven dropped passes. Gresham's yardage is down, but let's not pretend to blame him for that either. When you're averaging 1.18 yards/route run, your routes aren't designed to go very far.
We're not saying that you should like Gresham... that ship has sailed. He's a villain. You're a hero. But Cincinnati, which ranks 16th on offense and 14th in the passing game, isn't going to dump someone unless there's substantial return. They won't trade Gresham with the idea of "addition through subtraction"... not with a 0.018 percent lead over the second-place Baltimore Ravens and an offense fragile enough to dump a starting tight end with 20 catches in the last three games.
We're also not saying the Bengals won't trade Gresham. They may. They could rock our solid perceptions of them. Our point... we just don't see any of it happening.