It looks as though a long-term deal may not come this year for Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green.
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Green is set to play out the final year of his rookie contract before becoming a free agent in 2016:
While long-term contract deadlines loom for tagged WRs Demaryius Thomas & Dez Bryant, #Bengals WR AJ Green will play out his final year— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 14, 2015
#Bengals WR AJ Green is a top contract priority for Cincy, but he’ll wait until next offseason, won’t hold out. Set to make $10.1M in 2015— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 14, 2015
Like the Cowboys' Dez Bryant and Broncos' Demaryius Thomas, Green will almost certainly get the franchise tag slapped on him next March before he's able to hit unrestricted free agency. Thomas wants the Broncos to give him a Calvin Johnson-type deal with an excess of $16 million per year and $48 million guaranteed. That's probably close to what Green wants from the Bengals.
While he would certainly like some long-term security, Green isn't exactly hurting for money either. ESPN's Coley Harvey recently wrote that Green "expects to seek a new contract by season's end." Green also said, "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."
Green's representatives met with the Bengals in February to "discuss signing him to a long-term deal," but the Bengals have not wanted to meet his demands to this point. While he's clearly established himself as one of the game's best receivers, Green hasn't necessarily earned the right to be paid the kind of money he wants. After all, he's coming off a season in which he registered career-lows in yards (1,041), touchdowns (6) and games played (13). He missed three games in the regular season due to turf toe, and missed the wild-card playoff loss to the Colts with a concussion.
That said, if Green goes out and has a big 2015 season, don't be surprised if the Bengals give in to his demands next offseason.