The Cincinnati Bengals are planning to use their franchise tag on wide receiver A.J. Green, according to ESPN's Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler.
Green did not play during the 2019 season after he tore ligaments in his left ankle during Cincinnati's first preseason practice. The Bengals are reportedly intent on keeping him during the 2020 season, whether through the tag or a longer deal.
Cincinnati keeping Green is a "good selling point" for the team's No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, Fowler added. Projected first-overall pick Joe Burrow said if drafted by the Bengals, he would look forward to playing with Green.
“With any rookie quarterback, the more help you can get the better,” Burrow said. “A.J. has been one of the best players at his position for a very long time, and if I am lucky enough to get drafted No. 1 overall, I would like to have him on the roster.”
The Bengals drafted Green in 2011 and signed him to a four-year, $60 million contract before the 2016 season. Discussions on another long-term deal reportedly stalled toward the end of the deal, but the two sides have until July 15 to reach one.
"He's an important guy, and he's done it the right way," director of player personnel Duke Tobin said at the combine. "We view him as a Bengal and want him around and want him to be part of the future."
In January, seven-time Pro Bowler Green said a "franchise tag is not the best thing" in terms of showing commitment.
"The tag is $18 million, so I'm not running away from that," Green said. "But that also shows that they're not committed, and in that circumstance, I have to protect myself."
Green, 31, has had his share of injuries during his NFL career, missing 29 games since 2016 and 23 of Cincinnati's last 24. He is second in total receptions (602), receiving yards (8,907) and receiving touchdowns (63) in Bengals history.
Here are the latest rumors from around the league:
- As the Bengals look to move QB Andy Dalton, the Bears, Colts and Patriots are all potential trade destinations. (Ian Rapoport, NFL Network)
- The Bears are expected to add a veteran quarterback behind Mitch Trubisky. (Jeremy Fowler, ESPN)
- The Chiefs are not expected to exercise their 2020 option on T/G Cam Erving. (Terez Paylor, Yahoo Sports)
- The Panthers are unlikely to use the franchise tag on CB James Bradberry. (Rhiannon Walker, The Athletic)
- LB Joe Schobert will hit the free agent market since the Browns are not willing to meet his $10M-plus market price. (Mary Kay Cabot, Cleveland.com)
- The Chargers could use franchise tag on TE Hunter Henry if unable to reach a long-term deal. (Ian Rapoport, NFL Network)
- The Buccaneers are strongly considering using the franchise tag on Shaq Barrett if unable to reach a long-term agreement. (Ian Rapoport, NFL Network)