John Ross is a very fast man. That's about the only positive thing you can say about the former No. 8 overall pick four years into his NFL career. The University of Washington product just hasn't been able to get any traction as a professional, struggling with injuries and consistency in every season as a Bengal. It seems now that the partnership between Ross and the team that drafted him is coming to a premature end, as Mike Garofolo of NFL Network reported this morning.
Ross has played 27 games in three full seasons and has amassed all of 51 catches for 733 yards and 10 touchdowns. Much of that production came last season when Ross caught 28 passes for 506 yards and three touchdowns. It was the only stretch he looked like the speed demon everyone thought he was heading into the 2016 NFL Draft after he ran a 4.22 40-yard dash. He's been relatively healthy this season but hasn't seen the field at all, leading to this trade request. And there is one team that should jump at this opportunity: the Green Bay Packers.
The Packers have zero wide receiver depth behind Davante Adams. This is partially their fault, seeing as they spent no substantial money in free agency and no draft picks on beefing up the receiving corps this past offseason. Injuries have also plagued the group all year. Adams missed a few weeks with a hamstring issue and Allen Lazard, who emerged as a go-to option for Aaron Rodgers, hit the IR shortly thereafter.
Ross would give the Packers something Rodgers has not had in recent history: a true deep threat. Rodgers is obviously one of the best QBs in the league when it comes to the deep ball, and guys like Adams and Lazard (who are fast but not overtly so) still eat up a lot of yards when Rodgers finds them. But Ross' presence would bring a very different element to the offense that those two can't.
What specifically comes to mind is Rodgers' first interception against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday afternoon. Cornerback Jamel Dean, playing man-to-man on Adams, sat on his toes and waited for Adams to break towards the sideline before jumping in front of the pass from Rodgers and taking it to the house. Now, if it were Ross on that side of the field instead of Adams, there's no chance Dean would be as ready to jump that route. Adams is a great receiver, but not one that cornerbacks are afraid will blow by them with no chance to recover. That's what Ross brings to the table, even if it's the only thing.
Green Bay will not have to give up much to get Ross. Cincinnati sees him as a sunk cost at this point, as evidenced by his lack of playing time despite a clean health slip from doctors. There's no guarantee a change of scenery will unlock any star potential, but his mere presence on the field is a plus because of his speed. The Packers certainly don't have anything to lose, given they seem like they're one serious injury away from Rodgers throwing to practice squad guys.
Despite the 28-point loss to the Bucs on Sunday, the Packers are contenders. Ross could end up doing absolutely nothing, but if he can give them even marginal production or simply scare defenses into the idea he can stretch the field, that would be a win since it seems unlikely they'd send anything more than a sixth-round pick for his services. It's the type of low-risk, high-reward move that championship teams should be making.