A.J. Green has made it clear that he does not want to be franchise-tagged by the Bengals in 2020, but he is open to working out a new long-term deal. However, Green and the Bengals are not close in extension talks, sources tell Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer (Twitter link).
Green hasn’t played a single snap this year after suffering ankle damage during the preseason, and when he does return in Week 10 following Cincinnati’s bye, he’ll be catching passes from someone other than Andy Dalton. Fourth-round rookie Ryan Finley is taking over at quarterback for the Bengals, giving Green a different signal-caller as he enters a stretch of games that will strongly affect his market value next spring.
Green became the NFL’s highest-paid receiver in 2015 after inking a four-year, $60MM extension, but his $15MM average annual value now ranks 11th at the position. The former No. 4 overall selection will be 32 years old when the 2020 campaign gets underway, and Green’s recent injury history — at least six missed games in 2016, 2018, and 2019 — will certainly factor into his asking price, but he should still be expected to command a lucrative multi-year deal.
If the Bengals do franchise Green, they’ll be locking in a fully guaranteed one-year salary in the $18.5MM range. If Green remains adamant about not accepting the tag, he could potentially hold out next spring and summer, creating a dicey situation between a franchise icon and a Cincinnati organization currently struggling through yet another dismal season.