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A.J. Green projected to be a great fit for Chiefs in free agency

A.J. Green could be looking for a new team this offseason, and Bill Barnwell thinks that team could be the Chiefs.

Cincinnati at Kansas City John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The Bengals are going to be undergoing plenty of change this offseason. One of the biggest could be longtime Bengals’ wide receiver A.J. Green finding a new team that isn’t Cincinnati to play for.

The two sides are expected to part ways after the receiver just hasn’t played up to his All-Pro level the past few seasons. Now that Green appears to be towards the end of his career and the Bengals in the process of major rebuild, it makes sense that Cincinnati won’t be willing to commit the money that Green will likely demand on the open market to keep him in town. It also gives Green a chance to join an established contender, which is something that ESPN’s Bill Barnwell is predicting will happen:

Green had a dismal 41.7% catch rate through the first five weeks of the season. He pieced together two good games but seemed to be deemphasized in favor of rookie Tee Higgins and didn’t do much after Joe Burrow went down with an injury in November. Green finished the season with six games of three receiving yards or fewer and had zero catches on six targets in what was likely his final game with the organization.

We’re now three-plus years removed from Green’s last healthy season as a starter (2017), and he hasn’t been that game-changing threat since 2018. He’ll have to take a massive pay cut from his $18 million franchise-tag figure, and having made more than $108 million as a pro, he might just move on.

I think Green can still play, and I wonder whether there’s a surprising fit. The Chiefs are going to move on from Sammy Watkins after his contract expires, and Mecole Hardman isn’t a like-for-like replacement. Green could be a relatively low-cost replacement for Watkins and chase a ring before he retires.

Barnwell also predicts Green will sign a one-year contract for $4 million, which makes sense for many reasons. The biggest thing the veteran wide receiver will have to do in 2021 is prove that he still has plenty in the tank. He may have played plenty in 2020, but Green looked like he lost a step, and he struggled to produce at all despite playing most of the offensive snaps. It is up for debate whether Green’s lack of production was him playing through injury or his age catching up to him, but the perception of him going into free agency can’t be high.

Joining a team that has a high powered offense like the Chiefs with Patrick Mahomes at quarterback with Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce taking up most of the defenses attention would be a great destination for Green to end up. Even if he has lost a step, it would be much easier for him to produce and get open in that situation. Not to mention he will likely be in the spotlight more with a contender than with the rebuilding Bengals.

One-year deals or just shorter contracts in general, should be even more commonplace this offseason with the salary cap not going up like it usually does due to the unusual season of teams playing around COVID-19. Players looking to cash out may be disappointed with what they are met with and settle for an opportunity to hit the open market next season. Green competing for a ring during that time just makes sense.

The Bengals will probably look to replace Green this offseason either through free agency or the draft to add to their strong core of Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins. It is unfortunate that such a great and important player over the past decade will be moving on, but it seems like it will be a good move for both sides, especially if he ends up with a team like Kansas City.