The Cincinnati Bengals and wide receiver A.J. Green finally reached an agreement on a new deal Friday to keep the franchise receiver locked up for the next five years, with a contract reportedly worth $60 million for another four years on top of this year.
Since becoming the No. 4 overall pick out of Georgia in the 2011 NFL Draft, Green has become one of the NFL's best pass-catchers and an indispensable part of the Bengals' offense. Ironically, it was another receiver in that class that helped Green get his deal done. The Atlanta Falcons gave Julio Jones a five-year, $70-million deal recently that helped Green find what his next deal should look like.
"Once Julio's deal was done, we felt better about the situation we were in," Green said, via Bengals.com. "But it was still taking time to iron out little things. Once Julio's deal was done, stuff started to heat up."
Green and quarterback Andy Dalton have combined to hook up 324 times for 4,735 yards, the most for any tandem in the first four seasons of their NFL careers. Their 33 touchdowns are also tied for the most over their first four seasons. While Green may get most of the credit, he knows having a good QB like Dalton has helped him get to this point.
"Coming in with Andy, having a guy to grow with over time, is definitely beneficial," Green said. "He knows me, I know him. We've been together since Day 1. We're a leader of this offense and they go as we go. If we have a good game, then we're hard to stop."
Green called the deal a blessing during Friday's press conference and said, "words can't describe how I feel right now, I'm just so happy." Green mentioned it was never about the money, the money is just, "another extra thing."
"I play the game because I love it, I want to be great, I want to put on that jacket one day, that's what really motivates me, not the money part. This is going to take it to another level."
He also said this really humbling and great quote:
Green called his mom who was at work and screaming and his dad who was mowing the lawn to tell them about his new contract.
Dalton also knows having an immensely-talented player like Green to throw to makes like a lot easier for him. "A.J. makes all of us better," Dalton said. "As a quarterback, you can put up a contested ball for him that you might not put up for everybody. We’re focused right now on 2015, but this is great to know for the long run."
Another NFL star that helped Green get his deal done was a fellow Georgia alum in Kansas City Chiefs All-Pro linebacker Justin Houston. Talking with Houston helped Green better handle his contract situation.
"I talked to [Houston] the other day about how he handled it," Green said, who is best friends with the Chiefs star. "He kept me focused and he was telling me, 'A.J., you got money in the bank [due to the franchise tag]. I didn't have anything and I had to go through the same thing.' By talking to him and keeping my focus with him always telling me not to worry about it and to just go out there and play and do what I do, it really helped."
Needless to say, Green and the Bengals are happy to just get this done so they can focus on football and playing the Raiders on Sunday. ""Everyone knows I just want to play football," Green said. "Playing in Cincinnati has been great for me and I want to stay here. So getting this done is great. I’ve still got tons I want to accomplish in the NFL."
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis echoed those sentiments while expressing joy in keeping his best offensive player locked up long term. "This is great news as we head to play the Raiders," Lewis said. "Everyone in football, and people who follow football, know that A.J. is a special talent. He makes plays that you wouldn’t think could be made. He’s an outstanding teammate and a leader you can rely on. He still has a long, great future ahead of him in Cincinnati."