The best player on the Cincinnati Bengals roster is now locked-up for at least one more year. That's because the team exercised the fifth-year option on wide receiver A.J. Green, which means he has two years left on his rookie contract.
Fifth-year options for Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson, Bengals WR AJ Green and Steelers DL Cameron Heyward were officially exercised today.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) April 21, 2014
Because Green was a Top 10 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the option will pay him at the level of the transition tag ($10.176 million for wide receivers). Even in 2016, they can use the franchise tag to hold him in place while working out a long-term deal.
Bengals owner Mike Brown told Paul Dehner of the Cincinnati Enquirer recently that the team had planned all along to use the fifth-year option on Green to lock him in through the 2015 season while negotiating a new deal for quarterback Andy Dalton:
"A.J. has one difference, you can tender him," Brown said. "That takes a big chunk of money. He’d probably get it anyway. It keeps him on the reservation, he’s not going to be leaving. He’s going to be here for not one more year but two more years."
In three years in the NFL, Green has compiled nearly 4,000 yards receiving with 29 touchdowns.
Up next for the Bengals is to get long-term deals for linebacker Vontaze Burfict and the aforementioned Dalton.