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Bengals decline John Ross’ fifth-year option

The former first-round pick will be set to enter free agency in 2021.

Cleveland Browns v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

In an expected move, the Cincinnati Bengals have declined the fifth-year option on the rookie contract of wide receiver John Ross III.

This will allow Ross’ contract to expire after the 2020 league year concludes and for him to enter unrestricted free agency as soon as that happens.

In his first three seasons, Ross has accumulated 716 receiving yards, 49 receptions and 10 touchdowns. Most notably, he’s only appeared in 24 games, with 19 of them as a starter. In the first four weeks of the 2019 season, he was among the top 10 in yards for receivers, but a sternoclavicular injury sidelined him for eight weeks. He returned for the final month and added on 178 yards to his career high of 506 for the year.

Injuries and inconsistency have defined Ross’ career thus far, which is why the Bengals decided not to add on a $15 million salary to his contract next year. This will allow them to either have Ross earn a second contract, or extend him with a more reasonable pay raise if they so desire.

Ross’ future with the Bengals remains promising, but it’s a little less certain now.