The Cincinnati Bengals are going to take their time signing wide receiver A.J. Green to a long-term extension. During an interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer and Bengals.com, prior to league meetings this week in Arizona, Bengals owner Mike Brown was asked about a possible extension for Green and the probable use of the franchise tag.
"Our problem is what you just said, the money is so big. We are going to have a finite cap room with a handful of players who are going to be eligible for free agency," said Brown on Sunday. Some of the players that will become free agents this time next year include safeties George Iloka and Reggie Nelson, cornerbacks Leon Hall, Dre Kirkpatrick and Adam Jones, offensive linemen Andrew Whitworth, Andre Smith and Kevin Zeitler, as well as wide receivers A.J. Green, Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu. The list grows.
"We are going to have to see what we can get done with that," said Brown. "We don't know yet where we are going to end up but we have tried to prepare ourselves for it some by holding back on cap expenditures this year which can be rolled over into next year. That will give us a little bit more potential to make deals."
Oh, the old roll money over from this year into next year for extensions, routine -- I think the Bengals have been rolling money over since 2012 expressively for the Green deal. On the other hand... Green is a fantastic talent but the money he will sign for could cover the costs for several starting-level players. Getting Green signed to a long-term deal, with the background noise about all of the other free agents, is an understandable dilemma that my franchise setting in Madden doesn't fully comprehend.
Our guess: The Bengals use the franchise tag on Green and apply the fifth-year options on guard Kevin Zeitler and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. With Cincinnati facing so many free agents next season, the Bengals could actually undergo significant change. Zeitler, Kirkpatrick and Green are core-level players that you build around -- not replace.