Our narrative is evolving; we imagine it will continue until the end. The negotiating distance between the Cincinnati Bengals and A.J. Green, from opening talks to an eventual agreement, appears vast.
Playing on the final year of his rookie contract, Green is set to earn a fully guaranteed $10.176 million this year and will likely be tendered with the franchise tag next year if an agreement isn't reached by next March. With Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas each signing five-year deals worth $70 million (with an insignificant $1.5 million separating their guaranteed numbers), it appears Cincinnati has reached variable clarity on the investment it would take signing Green to a long-term deal.
Former sports agent Joel Corry, who writes with CBSSports.com, reflects on how this impacts Green's negotiations, as well as how it will affect Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, Indianapolis' T.Y. Hilton, Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown and Chicago's Alshon Jeffrey.
Signing Green long term may be a challenging proposition because of Cincinnati's preferred structure with lucrative veteran contracts. The team's contracts are typically light on guaranteed money because of the absence of base salaries guarantees. Quarterback Andy Dalton's six-year extension with a base value of $16 million per year has a team high $17 million in guarantees. The Bengals will likely have a hard time convincing Green that a contract with less than half of the guaranteed money as his peers is appropriate. Since reinventing the wheel structurally will be a difficult proposition for Green, it won't be a surprise if he plays at least one year under a franchise tag.