It started Sunday morning.
NFL Insider Ian Rapoport speculated (or indirectly reported) that the Cincinnati Bengals are willing to deal tight end Jermaine Gresham prior to the Oct. 28 trading deadline. It's possible that the team is willing to trade Gresham or that his agent is starting to persuade the narrative -- largely because Gresham's season, coming into Sunday's game, was particularly quiet. In agent-speak, that translates to not going to make me bloody rich. In other words, a trade-and-sign-extension deal might be more lucrative than free agency at this stage.
"They already have Eifert coming off an injury", said Rapoport on the NFL Network's pregame show. "It seems they've already replaced him (Gresham). He could be had too."
Part of Cincinnati's willingness is the return of Tyler Eifert, who will come off temporary Injured Reserve in time for Cincinnati's Thursday night game against the Cleveland Browns. There is a timeline discrepancy though. The NFL trade deadline is 4 p.m. (ET) on Oct. 28. Even if the Bengals make a trade, Cincinnati will be left with Ryan Hewitt and Kevin Brock as their only tight ends until Eifert returns. That's at least one game against the Jacksonville Jaguars and more if Eifert isn't ready.
Heading into Sunday's game Gresham had only generated 14 receptions for 129 yards and no touchdowns.
On Sunday, Gresham ended up being Cincinnati's leading receiver with 10 grabs for 48 yards receiving. In the past two games against Indianapolis and Carolina, Gresham has posted 16 receptions for 116 yards. His 24 receptions this year is second-most behind Mohamed Sanu's 30.
After Cincinnati's offense went eight straight possessions without a first down, the Bengals received one when Gresham was part of an altercation that led to a personal foul and ejection of Erik Werner. Two plays later, Gresham gave Cincinnati their first "earned" first down on a five-yard reception with 30 seconds remaining. Unfortunately, the Bengals said f*ck it after a quarterback sack pushed Cincinnati to their 38-yard line, allowing the first half to expire.
Mohamed Sanu, who had a team-leading 54 yards receiving, was the only other Bengals player with more than two receptions on Sunday.