When the Bengals drafted John Ross with the ninth-pick in the 2017 draft, they were hoping for a vertical threat that could take the top off the defense, and cause enough commotion to leave A.J. Green in single coverage.
Unfortunately, that has yet to be the case.
Instead, the Bengals found a powerful weapon in Ross that is still valuable to the Bengals’ offense. They found a red zone target.
It doesn’t seem intuitive that the fastest man in the NFL is most effective in the shortest part of the field. But he is quick enough off of the line that he can still get open in tight spaces and gain the few yards the Bengals need for the score.
Ross is a huge weapon for a team that has historically struggled in the red zone.
With a new offensive-minded head coach and offensive coordinator, 2019 could be the year that he contributes to the offense in the remaining 80 yards of the gridiron.
Zac Taylor could actually be a blessing for Ross. As he and Brian Callahan install a new playbook and scheme, Taylor should think back to his time with the Rams and how they used Brandin Cooks.
All of this is to say that Ross’ value should be at an all-time high since draft night in 2017.
The honest truth is that Ross may never become a player that was worth the ninth-overall pick, but he is slowly making strides to get closer. Why would you trade him while he is on his way up?
If they trade Ross right now, they’re giving up all hope that he can live up his expectations. But they’re also creating another hole in the roster that they’ll need to fix.
The Bengals already know that they have to fix the right side of the offensive line. They already know they have some serious work to do in the linebacker corps. Why would they create a hole in the wide receiver room?
Other than A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd, the Bengals don’t have any other dependable wideouts. Who would step up in Ross’ absence? Cody Core? Josh Malone?
The Bengals should spend free agency and the draft focusing on the offensive line, linebackers, and tight ends. They shouldn’t vacate a spot that got them seven touchdowns a year ago.
They should keep Ross, keep their red zone touchdowns, and keep investing in the young speedster. Trading him would only create more problems for the young coaching staff.