A.J. Green wants a contract, should the Bengals give it to him?
Finally, after an abysmal first eight weeks to the season, the Bengals have something to smile about. Star wide-out A.J. Green has announced he plans on returning from injury after the bye-week to play division rival Baltimore Ravens.
Green, who has been sidelined since July after getting surgery on torn ligaments in his foot, will get his first action of the 2019 NFL season. This is not only great news for rookie quarterback Ryan Finley, who is getting his first start of the season against Baltimore, but now the offense gets their most explosive weapon back. With 4 of the 8 losses this season being decided by less than 7 points, it is hard to imagine the Bengals would be in the position they are in with a healthy Green.
A.J. Green, who is also in the final year of his 4-year/$60 million contract, stated today that the last thing he wants is to be franchise-tagged this offseason by the Bengals. “Like, I'm genuinely happy here. We might not win, but I'm happy here. But at the end of the day, this is a business. I know my worth and I know what I bring to this team”, Green stated on Wednesday. Green may be the best player on the Bengals, but his age and durability bring the question if it is the right move for the Bengals to extend him long-term.
There is no denying that A.J. Green is an elite wide receiver. Through his career with the Bengals, he has racked up 8,907 receiving yards, 63 touchdowns, and has made 7 pro bowl’s through 8 full seasons with the team.
While this season is his 9th with the team, Green has yet to reach the field. This brings the first argument as to why it may not be in the best interest of the team to sign him long-term. Green only played 9 games with the Bengals last season, and at best is on pace to only play 8 this year. While Green has been fairly healthy throughout the consistency of his career, Green has had trouble staying on the field the last 2 seasons.
According to Apex Fantasy Football money leagues, the peak of an NFL- wide receiver’s production comes at the age of 27 years old. Green is now 31 years old, and statistically has trended downwards since his all-pro 2013 campaign where he gained 1,426 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns through the air. These numbers suggest a negative slope through the rest of Green’s career. If you combine this with his lack of being on the field, it may make this easy assumption of needing to extend Green a not so easy one.
According to Spotrac.com, the Bengals will have roughly $59 million in salary cap to play with this offseason. While this may seem like a lot, if the Bengals give Green top money, a big chunk of that is being taken out on one player. This number also does not include the cap space taken up from a draft, especially if that draft includes a quarterback taken with the number one pick.
The Bengals are clearly looking at the future and are facing a rebuild. While it may be hard for long-time Bengals fans, it might be in good interest of the franchise to move on from the Dalton and Green era, and instead look toward building through the draft, and signing key pieces on the offensive line. This would all be leading to a brighter future on the horizon in Cincy.