During last year’s offseason, the front office of the Cincinnati Bengals displayed great confidence on the subject of third contracts for Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins. Towards the end of the preseason, both stars inked multi-year deals.
2019 has A.J. Green next in line for a new payday, and while it’s a #NewDEY at Paul Brown Stadium, Bengals’ owner Mike Brown would like some things to stay the same. Brown expressed a high level of certainty that the team and the seven-time pro bowler would come to an agreement at the NFL’s Annual League Meeting.
“Oh, I think he’s a proven commodity, isn’t he?” Brown told Fletcher Page of cincinnati.com. “The price range for him will be something for him will be something we can figure out, will come together.
”It’s true with anyone, if they suddenly get an injury that it reduces them. Well that changes the equation, but I never plan on that happening. I like to think that won’t happen. If A.J. is healthy, he’s as good a receiver as anybody in the league.”
Surprised? You shouldn’t be based on everything that’s been said on the matter this offseason. Loose rumors surfaced that teams were interested in trading for Green, but nothing has come close to validating the weight of that speculation. The value of Green doesn’t need to be restated anymore than it already has been, and the only value Brown and his circle are concerned about is the value that will end up on the contract that they’ll ask him to sign.
Timing remains a crucial factor for Green and the Bengals. Last week it was reported that the Falcons and Julio Jones were closing in on a deal that would pay Jones $20M a year, but that process may take a while. It would be in the Bengals’ best interest to come to terms with Green before Jones eventually puts pen to paper, as the scenario shares similarities with a contract dispute that occurred last offseason.
While Atkins and the Bengals were in discreet negotiations, Rams’ superstar Aaron Donald held out for months until he received the biggest contract for a defensive player in NFL history. Atkins signed his extension days before Donald did, and agreed on a number significantly smaller. But Donald is three years younger than Atkins and objectively a better player than Atkins at this point in time.
Green and Jones are closer in age and as a result, on-field ability, giving Green significantly more leverage if Jones signs a massive extension before him. Green’s durability concerns, which Brown briefly brought up, may drop his price ever so slightly, but the market will work in Green’s favor regardless.
The Bengals don’t typically play coy when it comes to extensions for their best players, and their intentions remain clear when it comes to the future of their most well-known franchise cornerstone. It’s simply a matter or time rather than a matter of if.