One of the biggest offseason questions for the Bengals outside of the first overall pick is what will happen with longtime Bengal wide receiver A.J. Green. This has been question dating back to during the 2019 season, but Cincinnati’s head coach, Zac Taylor, is here to reiterate that Green is one of the team’s biggest priorities headed into the offseason.
“He’s a guy that we’re excited about to have part of this team, first and foremost,” Taylor told Tyler Dragon and Lindsay Patterson of the Cincinnati Enquirer on the Bengals Beat Podcast. “That’s what matters right now, and as we go through the offseason, we’ll figure out how it best fits. But right now, we expect him to be a part of the team. We want him to be a part of the team... I’m excited to coach him really for the first time this next season”
During Taylor’s time on the podcast he also skirted around the question of how negotiations have been progressing, but that may just be due to him trying to respect the privacy of the process.
It makes sense that a second year head coach would want arguably his best offensive weapon back next season. Especially considering that he didn’t even get a chance to run his offense with Green on the field in 2019. The hot start of the season faded pretty quickly, but they did manage to make some changes after the midseason bye week to keep their heads above water. Injuries obviously played a role, but Green’s absence may have been the biggest reason for the team’s struggles.
Realistically, the Bengals and Green would love to get a multi-year contract finalized, but both sides may be pretty far apart on the final deal. From Green’s point of view, he realizes he probably has one last blockbuster type contract in him for his career, despite planing to play for years to come. His ability to demand that big ticket price as a top NFL wide receiver doesn’t last forever, so his next deal may span that time period. The Bengals also will likely be weary of committing that kind of deal to a receiver who has finished the past two seasons on injured reserve, and played a total of nine games.
This obvious impasse has franchise tag written all over it, which is something Green said he wouldn’t like, but it is something he would play under. The little exception there is he would skip OTA’s if tagged, which honestly seems pretty agreeable considering Cincinnati want their star wide receiver healthy for the regular season, and it isn’t like anyone has to worry about Green coming to training camp or into the season out of shape.
It is inevitable that this problem gets kicked down the road to next offseason, and Green’s health may be the deciding factor over whether the team opts to give him that deal he is looking for or not. Either way, Bengals fans will likely have at least one more season to appreciate Green in stripes.