John Ross was the first member of the Cincinnati Bengals' 2017 NFL Draft class. The hope is that he will make a far bigger impact than most of the team's recent first-round selections.
Outside of A.J. Green in 2011, it's been a rough stretch of first-rounders in terms of the impact they made as rookies, which has mostly been riding the bench and/or being injured. The Bengals think Ross can make an immediate impact, similar to what Green did as the fourth-overall pick in 2011. That was also the only time Marvin Lewis has drafted a first-round receiver.
That is, until Ross became the ninth-overall pick this year. The Bengals had plenty of offensive weapons before taking the Washington Huskies game-breaker, but they needed another one to get the offense back to being an elite unit that can consistently score on anyone. The hope is that Ross can come in and help this unit to get back to being a top-10 offense.
Speaking of, Ross will make a hefty amount of money as a top-10 draft selection. According to Over The Cap, Ross signed a 4-year contract worth $17,115,864 with the Bengals. He received a guarantee worth $17,115,864 including a $10,587,900 signing bonus.
Here’s what the contract looks like during the first four years:
However, Ross has a fifth-year option the team can exercise entering his fourth season (2020) since he was a first-round pick. He also has an added incentive to his contract because he was a top-10 selection.
The fifth-year salary of NFL players on rookie deals will vary depending on how high the player was drafted. The top-10 selections receive a salary equal to the average of the 10 highest salaries at their position. For the remainder of the first round, the wage is the average of the third through 25th highest salaries at the position.
With that in mind, Ross’ fifth-year option will be worth the average of the 10 highest-paid wide receivers in 2021. That figures to be in the neighborhood of $11 million based on the current deals of receivers signed through the 2021 season, which only includes four players currently, so it can change a lot between now and 2021. Though, that price tag will only go up as the league’s salary cap increases each year.
If the Bengals managed to sign A.J. Green to another extensions at some point, they could be committing around $25 million to just two receivers in that 2021 season. This is obviously a long way down the road, but the Bengals will likely do everything to keep Green in stripes for his entire career, and they’ll hope to do the same with Ross.
For now, Ross is making a modest $4,278,966 annually through the next four years. For a guy the team hopes can develop into an elite receiver, that seems like a relatively small amount.