At this time last year, one of the biggest questions surrounding the Bengals, as well as several other NFL teams, was if they'd be able to sign their franchise receiver to a long-term deal.
Some of the league's best pass-catchers were on the final years of their rookie contracts, leading to a lot of tense negotiations and questions as to whether that would be the final year for those players with their respective clubs.
A.J. Green was among them, but like the rest, he ultimately agreed to a new deal with the Bengals. His came in the form of a four-year, $60-million extension with the Bengals, keeping the All-Pro receiver under contract until he's 31-years -old.
ESPN's Mike Sando included that deal in his list of every team's most player-friendly deal.
Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Green, WR
It's tough finding Bengals contracts to qualify for inclusion. Green's four-year, $60 million extension was player friendly on two fronts. Green got the deal after his fourth season when quite a few highly drafted players have waited a fifth year. Green also got a relatively short extension. That means Green will be 31 instead of 33 when he signs his next deal.
In terms of just the new years added onto Green's deal, he averages out to $15 million annually over those four years, the highest of any NFL receiver currently, per Spotrac. Elite receivers are making around that number, but only Green has reached $15 million in terms of annual salary during the four-year extension.
But if you include Green's fifth-year option of $10.176 million which he received in 2015, his deal ended up being a five-year contract for over $70 million. That's similar to the deals Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant (five years, $70 million, $45 million guaranteed) and Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas (five years, $70 million with $43.75 million guaranteed) signed before the July 15 deadline to extend franchised players last year.
You also need to realize that the deal was structured in a way that it added money to that 2015 option year, which allowed the Bengals to keep Green's cap hit from actually being $15 million over the next four years. Per Spotrac, Green has cap hits of $13 million, $13.5 million and $13,75 million over the next three years before it jumps to $15.1 million in 2019.
But even that big cap hit in 2019 may not come to pass. With Green being just 30 that year, the Bengals could work to sign him to another extension that year, and it probably will lower that cap hit while adding more years and money in future years.
In other words, while Green does have a player-friendly deal, it's not as though it's one that is not also good one for the Bengals. And, if that's the most player-friendly deal on the Bengals, it just goes to show how good the Bengals' front office is at creating team-friendly deals that keep the players they want within the organization. (See: Carlos Dunlap (who was ranked as having the most team-friendly deal yesterday), Andy Dalton, Vontaze Burfict, Geno Atkins, Giovani Bernard, George Iloka and the Bengals' many other mutually great team- and player-friendly deals.)