According to CBS Sports’ Bryan DeArdo, the Indianapolis Colts are among his logical seven landing spots for Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross—who has recently requested a trade out of the Queen City (and one famous for its delicious Skyline Chili):
Indianapolis is in need of another receiver to help open things up for T.Y. Hilton, who has yet to find the end zone through six games. Nevertheless, Hilton still leads the Colts with 20 receptions, while Zach Pascal is currently second on the team with 16 catches. Pascal’s two touchdown catches is tied with tight end Mo Alie-Cox for the team lead. Rookie Michael Pittman and second-year wideout Parris Campbell have caught a combined 15 passes so far, and while both players may turn out to be good pros, the Colts could use an instant upgrade at receiver in order to stay in the thick of things in the AFC playoff race.
The former 9th overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft is most known for his speed, having run an absurdly fast 4.22 forty time at that year’s NFL Combine—which catapulted him up draft boards—and the Bengals ultimately pounced early on because of his enticing fleet feet.
Still, the 5’11”, 194 pound wide receiver has failed to live up to his early draft billing with the Bengals and hasn’t made much of an impact during his first four NFL seasons.
During 27 career games (20 starts), Ross has 51 receptions for 733 receiving yards (14.4 ypr. avg.) and 10 touchdown receptions through 2017-2020. So far this season, Ross has just 2 receptions for 17 total receiving yards in 3 games (1 start).
Only 24 years old, Ross still has the youth, blistering fast speed, and the first round pedigree, and to be fair, the Bengals haven’t exactly been an offensive juggernaut over the past 4 seasons—especially with longtime veteran quarterback Andy Dalton largely starting behind center up until this season, who hasn’t exactly been known for challenging opposing secondaries deep with his arm (or lack thereof).
Ross hasn’t been very productive, but perhaps a change of scenery and a new offensive system could do him well at this important crossroads of his young career.
The Colts showed a much more explosive passing attack against Ross’s current team this past weekend, as veteran gunslinger, Philip Rivers, had 13 explosive pass plays against the Bengals on Sunday.
With head coach Frank Reich opening up the playbook, and the Colts running more uptempo, no huddle, Rivers really found his rhythm and took calculated deep shots.
The Colts have also gotten a big lift from young wideout Marcus Johnson, who ran a 4.38 forty time at Texas back in 2016, and is quickly becoming one of their best deep threats—especially with longtime veteran T.Y. Hilton having an unusually quiet season.
Already without speedy slot Parris Campbell and the 4.31 forty time of his own, the Colts could theoretically use another fast wide receiver who can challenge opposing defenses deep, stretch the field, and prevent defenses from stacking the box against the run.
However, practice squad promotee, another speedy wideout, DeMichael Harris, did play well in limited action last weekend against the Bengals with 3 receptions for 29 receiving yards.
That being said, the demand for Ross should be relatively low though—presumably nothing more than a late round draft pick, which could entice a wide receiver needy team like the Colts—especially in the speed department, to potentially roll the dice.
We’re not talking a 4-way bean, or a 3-way ‘heavy spaghetti’, but a two-way trade between Cincinnati and Indianapolis.
While there’s a chance that Ross is just all speed and little else in the receiving department—joining the likes of former Colts Darrius Heyward-Bey or Phillip Dorsett as first round busts, there’s also the chance that maybe Ross, as a reclamation project, is still capable of better showcasing his world-class speed, as well as first round talent and ability elsewhere.
In the NFL, speed still kills (*both ways*), but it wouldn’t be that big of a deal for the Colts if their investment is very minimal such as losing a late round draft pick for acquiring Ross.
The risk could very well be worth the reward—but still remains ultimately unlikely.