The Bengals are hoping A.J. Green bounces back from the worst two-year stretch of his career.
Green, who will be 32 in July, hasn't played in an NFL game in over 18 months. He missed all of last season with ligament damage in his left ankle that required surgery. He was limited to just nine games in 2018 because of a right toe injury.
Even though he's struggled to stay healthy, the Bengals believe he's a big part of their future.
They placed the franchise tag on Green, which will pay him nearly $18 million this season. It's the first time they've used the tag since 2013.
"We really like A.J. Green and look forward to coaching him this year. We want him here for a long time," Zac Taylor said in April.
Green is fully healthy and has been working out in Atlanta. The two sides have until July 15 to work out a long-term extension.
The Bengals are banking on Green to bounce back this season and Pro Football Focus agrees (sort of).
PFF projects Green to have 64 receptions for 981 yards and seven touchdowns.
On the surface, this would be great for the Bengals. Here's the problem: this team is hoping to get its' seven-time Pro Bowler back this season.
Green has topped the 1,000-yard mark seven times. He played in 13 games or more in each of those seven seasons.
He's failed to reach that mark three times — 2016, 2018 and 2019. All three years were cut short (or didn't begin) due to injury. He was on pace for a career year in 2016 before a hamstring injury ended his season six games early.
It would be great to have Green back on the field, but if he plays 16 games and fails to reach 1,000 yards receiving, then something went wrong for the Bengals.
Either rookie quarterback Joe Burrow struggled — or Green isn't the player that he was a few years ago.
The Bengals believe he will get back to his old form this season. Only time will tell if that's the case.