Is 2020 A.J. Green’s Cincinnati Swan Song?

Is 2020 A.J. Green’s Cincinnati Swan Song?

by July 16, 2020 2 comments

After Wednesday’s deadline to negotiate with players designated with the franchise tag came and went without fanfare in Cincinnati, it appears the Bengals are ready to turn out the lights on the A.J. Green era after the coming season.

Green has been training in Atlanta during this year’s pandemic-laden downtime and is believed to be 100 percent healthy and prepared for the 2020 campaign, whenever it happens. He is expected to sign his franchise tag and play for $17.9 million in what essentially amounts to a contract year as he aims to prove that he can remain healthy for 16 games prior to fielding offers in free agency.

The soon-to-be-32-year-old Green will be catching passes from the future of the franchise in Joe Burrow after spending nearly every game of his career locked in with his friend and fellow 2011 draftee Andy Dalton, who is now in Dallas. Green’s presence is a boon for Burrow as the rookie undertakes the adjustment to the NFL, and likewise, Burrow’s presence is important for Green as well. A big season virtually guarantees a huge payday. Detractors who point to his age need only look to Julio Jones in Atlanta for a player who shows no signs of slowing down. How about Larry Fitzgerald? At Green’s age, he immediately rattled off three straight 100-plus-catch and 1,000-plus-yard seasons.

With the deadline in the rearview, the Bengals can no longer negotiate a contract before or during the season. On the surface, it is not a bad business decision, but most fans in Cincinnati will not appreciate that logic. In truth, most know deep down inside that throwing stacks of money at a player with a history of injuries does not make a whole lot of sense, even if he is one of your favorites.

The Bengals already had a full stable of wide receivers even before they drafted Tee Higgins with the No. 33 overall pick in April, and if the writing wasn’t already on the proverbial wall for the team beyond 2020 then, it is now.

Cincinnati (66-44-1 with Green in the lineup, all under Marvin Lewis) still has a few options available to them, even if they are improbable.

Cincinnati can trade Green during the season to a contender that suffers an injury or needs added weapons but are likely to get little in return. The days of thinking you will get a second- or third-round pick are gone when your trade partner knows that they are likely only getting a rental before he hits free agency. In that case, Green is better served as a mentor to Higgins and Burrow throughout the season.

They could franchise him again in 2021 but with salary cap uncertainty and looming extensions for other players, paying him over $21 million for a season is a longshot at best. And frankly, he would be more likely to sign the tag and then demand a trade.

The final option is the timeframe between the end of the regular season and prior to the start of free agency. During that window, the Bengals could attempt to negotiate a new contract. Despite what many fans and talking heads outside of Cincinnati have said, Green had always wanted to remain a Bengal. However, what he perceives as a lack of respect by forcing him to play under the franchise tag (which he repeated his opposition to multiple times) probably caused enough irreparable damage for him to tell Cincinnati to get in line with everyone else. That is, unless something awfully special happens in 2020 and a spark is lit.

Green currently sits four receiving touchdowns away from breaking the Cincinnati Bengals’ all-time mark of 66. It would be a fitting legacy to leave behind in southern Ohio for the young man who was an immediate fan favorite when he was drafted out of Georgia and notched a 41-yard touchdown for his first NFL catch.

Assuming we have a season in 2020, Bengals fans should take every opportunity to appreciate everything that he has done for the city both on the field and off.

Covering NFL, MLB, Fantasy Sports, and NCAAB. Cincinnati raised, Los Angeles resident with a stop in Philadelphia in between. Joe Mixon truther, fan of "The Answer". Joey Votto is an international treasure.

2 Comments so far

Jump into a conversation

Leave a Reply