After it looked as though A.J. Green and the Bengals may not get a deal done this year, talk among the media has quickly blown up and opinions from so called experts have ranged from saying Green will play through the season without a new deal to we should expect Green to sign an extension before the pre-season.
A big reason why negotiations between Green and Cincinnati were coming along slowly was due to the ongoing discussions between fellow NFL receivers Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas with their respective teams. Once the Broncos and Cowboys gave those two nearly-matching five-year, $70-million deals, that gave Green and the Bengals a common ground to work with.
Many believed the first of the key receivers who were approaching free agency (Bryant, Thomas, Green and Julio Jones) to receive their deals would receive the least money of the group and set the floor for further big-name extensions that would follow.
Just like Julio Jones, expect A.J. Green to get a new deal before the season begins. The dual Dez Bryant/Demaryius Thomas signings essentially established a new sweet spot for top-of-the-line receivers, and the only way anyone is getting at all close to the $16M/year Megatron got is by getting to the open market in his prime. Extensions that are done while a player is on the franchise tag or the fifth-year option aren't going to reap that sort of reward, and from everything I am hearing, both Jones and A.J. Green are cool with doing something now in the Bryant range rather than play it out and try to hit a grand slam a year from now, knowing the franchise tag is likely looming for them as well. Expect both to fall in around $13M a season and this could be a very similar situation to how the Bryant and Thomas deals went down in that once one was agreed to, the other was all but imminent. These two won't be as nearly identical, but they aren't going to be all that dissimilar either.
This may be what La Canfora is actually hearing from his "sources," or it could be him simply reading the tea leaves. After all, Green essentially has a grasp of what his next deal should look like in what Thomas and Bryant got. Of those three, you could make an argument for each receiver being better than the other, but none of the three should end up with significantly different deals.
It's actually a similar situation as to what Andy Dalton, Colin Kaepernick and Alex Smith were in last year. All three quarterbacks are similar: middle-tier QBs, but it was hard to find a common ground with their teams in negotiations until one got a deal done. Once Kaepernick set the stage and got his deal, which pays him around $17 million annually (if certain de-escalators are met), Dalton ended up getting a deal that pays him around $16 million annually and Smith's extension ended up netting him $17 million annually.
With more than a month until the regular-season opener in Oakland, look out for the possibility the Bengals and Green reach a deal in the coming weeks. But, it's highly possible a deal will not get done as well and all this talk may just be just that, talk.
On a side note, be sure to check out Dadio McDuck and Dr. Hodgie E. Smodgie's video on whether A.J. Green should be paid like Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas.