Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green is entering the final year of his rookie deal with a $10.176 million price tag; it was originally a four-year deal but a fifth-year option was built-in because he was a former first-round pick.
Fear not, my orange-hued brothers and sisters. It's extremely unlikely Green would leave after this season, considering the franchise tag would be a suitable option in 2016 with a projected to cost of $14 million. If the team applies the franchise tag in 2017, it could reach $16.8 million. Between you and I, that's a bit steep for Mike Brown's bones. During his football camp at Kings Mills, Green told an attache of reporters he's not hurting for money, nor thinking about it.
"You know I watch ESPN all the time, and that's all they talk about," Green said via ESPN. "But like I say, I'm just here to play football. My body of work will speak for itself." That being said, ESPN NFL reporter Coley Harvey writes that Green "expects to seek a new contract by season's end." Green continues, saying that "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."
Money will be a factor obviously, but a greater impact could be the potential deals with other superstar wide receivers. Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant are seeking new deals with the Denver Broncos and Dallas Cowboys respectively, currently playing under the franchise tag. Julio Jones is in an identical situation to Green.
Any top receiver to sign a long-term agreement could create leverage for the others applying a projected floor. If Green signs an extension this weekend (he won't), the representatives for Thomas, Bryant and Jones would cite Green's deal as the absolute minimum. By the time these extensions are completed, Green would find himself as the lowest paid, if he inks a new deal first. Green's representatives met with the Bengals in February to "discuss signing him to a long-term deal" but those discussions were fruitless. It's also worth noting that Green is represented by super sports agent Tom Condon, who is also the agent for Bryant.
Dallas wants to sign Bryant prior to the July 15 deadline, which prevents franchise players from signing long-term extensions until after the season. Despite optimistic forecasts that a deal could get done, one insider quotes a source as saying "there's literally nothing going on." The Denver Post writes Demaryius Thomas, also under the microscope for the league's July 15 deadline and "wants Calvin Johnson money", especially the $48 million guarantee.
The Falcons shifted their offseason focus towards an extension with wide receiver Julio Jones after the NFL draft. "There is no question that our focus in the future will be on Julio Jones and where we are," Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff told ESPN.com. "I don't want to get into specifics about the timing of that, obviously. But now that the draft is over and we continue to build this football team, we understand that Julio is a very important part of our building and evolving as a championship-type team."
Signing a long-term deal wouldn't serve Green's interest if he's attempting to maximize value; despite reaching the Pro Bowl, 2014 was a season loaded with injuries for the Bengals' star receiver. Green realizes he's better served with an explosive rebound in 2015 and then negotiating a long-term deal, which he realizes. On the contrary... major injuries can damper these expectations and push for a greater argument to sign sooner.