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Impact in A.J. Green negotiations as NFLPA investigates collusion against Cowboys and Broncos

With news that the NFLPA is investigating possible collusion against the Broncos and Cowboys, we look at how this could impact negotiations between A.J. Green and the Bengals.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The NFLPA is investigating the possibility that Dallas and Denver are colluding with each other about long-term deals regarding Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. "The NFLPA believes the Broncos and Cowboys had contact about each players’ contract when the collective bargaining agreement prohibits such contact," writes Schefter on his Facebook page. "The NFLPA now is trying to determine if collusion did occur and when to possibly file a claim."

Pro Football Talk adds:

If one player signs a long-term contract, it could set the market and help the other in negotiations. And so it could be beneficial to both the Cowboys and the Broncos to make sure that neither team gives its franchise receiver a big-time deal. But if the Cowboys and Broncos discussed such a deal, that would be collusion.

On the surface, this won't impact negotiations between the Cincinnati Bengals and wide receiver A.J. Green, entering the final year under contract, much. If Cincinnati is unable to sign Green to a long-term deal by March, the Bengals probably tender the franchise tag while working towards an extension next spring; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones faces an identical scenario.

The curiosity is this: If Bryant signs a long-term deal prior to the July 15 deadline, Thomas could approach Denver and ask for more. Denver clearly doesn't want that situation; neither does Dallas if the roles were reversed. In this case, neither scenario appears favorable for a long-term extension by Wednesday's deadline. On the other hand, if the NFLPA investigation prompts Dallas or Denver to sign their franchise receivers to a long-term deal, it could reignite negotiations between Green and the Bengals, both of whom could use leverage against the other; Green's camp could argue the first signing as the floor whereas Cincinnati could apply a reasonable argument for the ceiling".

Either way, whether it's the franchise tag or a long-term deal, it won't be easy for the Bengals to stomach. "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," owner Mike Brown said last March, cognizant of the fact of nearly 30 players entering free agency next year. Some of the players that will become free agents this time next year include safeties George Iloka and Reggie Nelson, cornerbacks Leon Hall 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.

On multiple occasions Green has deflected questions about his contract. In April he said "I handle the part of playing. I’m not hurting for money. I got my option. That’s enough for now. I'm just focused on football. Next year will take care of itself." Green repeated his stance during an ESPN interview this week. "I don't get into all the 'I need a contract' stuff. I'm not here for money. I'm not broke. So I'm fine. I can wait until the end of the year to get a contract, but I know that time is coming."