A.J. Green

Latest On Chiefs’ Chris Jones, Bengals’ A.J. Green

And then there were three. With Broncos safety Justin Simmons and Buccaneers edge rusher Shaquil Barrett agreeing to sign their franchise tenders, Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones, Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green, and Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue are the only franchised players whose statuses remain uncertain.

As Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com reports, there may be some progress on the Jones front (video link). We recently heard that talks between Jones and the Chiefs had stalled, and that Jones is prepared to hold out until he gets the contract he wants. But Fowler says player and team have finally resumed negotiations, which is a big deal in and of itself considering that there had been radio silence for months.

However, there is still plenty of work to be done. Though Jones has been reportedly aiming for a deal with an average annual value of about $20MM, Fowler reports that KC will have to pony up “well over” the $20MM figure if it wants to get an extension completed. As good as Jones is, it’s unclear if the two sides will be able to bridge the gap in advance of the July 15 deadline.

Unlike Jones and the Chiefs, Green and the Bengals have discussed an extension recently. It doesn’t sound as if those discussions have been particularly fruitful, however, as Fowler notes there is not much optimism regarding a multi-year contract

Green has indicated previously that he will not hold out if he does not get a long-term deal of his liking, and given the new CBA’s rules for players holding out after having signed a contract as a veteran, that makes sense. A Jones holdout would be much more likely, as Jones just finished his rookie contract and has not yet signed a pact as a veteran player.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Status Of All 15 Tagged Players Prior to July 15 Extension Deadline

The clock is ticking for tagged players to sign extensions with their teams, per the league calendar.

July 15: At 4:00 p.m., New York time, deadline for any club that designated a Franchise Player to sign such player to a multiyear contract or extension. After this date, the player may sign only a one-year contract with his prior club for the 2020 season, and such contract cannot be extended until after the club’s last regular season game.

With less than nine days remaining until the deadline, let’s take a look at where each of the 15 tagged players stand.

Already Signed Tag

*Received transition tag (vs. franchise tag)

Haven’t Signed Tag, Won’t Hold Out

Haven’t Signed Tag, Threatening Hold Out

Five Franchise Tagged Players Have Yet To Sign Tenders

Teams have until July 15th to hammer out long-term deals with franchise tagged players. As of this writing, there are five players who have not signed their one-year tenders: Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green, Broncos safety Justin Simmons, Buccaneers edge rusher Shaquil Barrett, Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones, and Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue

[RELATED: Dak Prescott Still Wants Four-Year Deal; Cowboys Want Five-Year Deal]

The franchise tag is a sore spot for players, because it prohibits them from realizing their true value on the open market. Sometimes, players begrudgingly sign on the dotted line after skipping out on a portion of offseason activities. There have also been some notable holdouts to extend into the regular season – Le’Veon Bell, for example.

You can put Green in the former camp. The Bengals superstar wants long-term security from the only team he’s ever known, but he says he’ll sign the one-year tender if they can’t come to terms.

In the past, Simmons has indicated that he won’t skip Broncos activities, but Mike Klis of 9News speculates that agent Todd France could talk him into playing some hardball. Offers have been exchanged between the two sides, but, for now, the safety is looking at a one-year, $12.7MM proposition.

Jones – currently in line for a $16.1MM deal – has expressed frustration with the slow pace of negotiations with the Chiefs. The Chiefs, meanwhile, already have a $20MM defensive lineman in Frank Clark. Barrett, who said he’d be a good sport about signing the tender, says he’s expecting to have some movement by tomorrow, though it’s not clear if that means receiving an extension offer or putting pen to paper.

Ngakoue, of course, is prepared to go to war with the Jaguars. The two sides have been locked in a heated stalemate for a long time and the Jags say they won’t cave to the defensive end’s trade demand.

Bengals, A.J. Green Discussing Extension

The Bengals have discussed an extension with A.J. Green, according to ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano. Per the terms of the franchise tag, the two sides have until July 15 to hammer out a deal. If they can’t come to terms, the wide receiver will play out 2020 on a one-year, $17.971MM deal.

[RELATED: It’s A Make-Or-Break Year For Bengals WR John Ross]

Green’s situation is complicated to say the least. For years, he’s been the face of the franchise, and he’s performed as one of the league’s very best receivers across multiple seasons. After Green missed all of last year, it might be tough for the two sides to come to terms. If they can’t get something done over the next few weeks, Graziano wonders aloud if Green could be traded later this summer. It would be a shock to see the Bengals part with Green, but we’ve seen similar situations play out before in the NFL.

Everything’s been positive with A.J.,” head coach Zac Taylor said recently when asked about Green’s status. “He’s fully healthy and is working hard. He’s been in Atlanta. It’s all been positive in that regard.”

That’s good news for the here and now, but Green wants the security of a long-term deal. The 31-year-old (32 in July) won’t hold out, but he won’t be happy without a new pact either.

I have no problem with the franchise (tag). I don’t like it, but I’m not a guy that’s going to sit out the whole year,Green said in December. “But at the end of the day, that shows me they’re not committed to me. That’s fine. They have a business they have to run. As the player I have my own business, so if you do that I have to protect myself.”

If you’re not committed to me long-term, I understand. There are no hard feelings. You have a business to run. All great businesses face difficult decisions. I understand that. For me, I have to make a big decision as well.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Griffen, Robinson, Bengals

Everson Griffen is one of the top two pass rushers still on the market, and we heard last month that he would probably not re-sign with the Vikings. However, Minnesota did not do much to add to its pass rushing corps in the draft, with South Carolina DE D.J. Wonnum representing the most notable addition. And while GM Rick Spielman acknowledged that his team’s cap space makes it difficult to bring Griffen back, he did not rule it out.

“It is hard to say right now where everything is at and where we are at, [but] until things become more normalized I will never say never on a player,” Spielman recently said on the #PFTPM podcast (via PFT’s Mike Florio). “[Y]our roster is never set.”

Griffen has expressed an interest in joining the Seahawks, but Seattle is still open to bringing back Jadeveon Clowney. If Clowney returns to the ‘Hawks, perhaps Griffen will settle for a one-year deal on a Minnesota defense that he will not have to learn on the fly.

Now for more from the league’s north divisions:

  • Of the three OTs the Vikings added in this year’s draft, only second-rounder Ezra Cleveland profiles as an immediate threat to incumbent LT Riley Reiff. The team could again entertain the notion of kicking Reiff inside to LG, but that’s only if Cleveland proves himself ready for starting left tackle duties, which would be a tall order given the COVID-19 restrictions. So as Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune suggests, Reiff will likely stay at LT for the time being, and 2019 fourth-rounder Dru Samia will compete with Pat Elflein for the starting LG slot. The team could also target a free agent for that role, including Josh Kline, whom the Vikings released in a cost-cutting move in March.
  • Bears WR Allen Robinson said towards the end of last season that he is interested in an extension with Chicago, but the two sides do not appear to be close to a new deal, per Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Robinson is ticketed for free agency after the 2020 campaign, and Biggs suggests that the franchise tag could be in play if there is no extension in place by the second month of the season.
  • Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic says both A.J. Green and the Bengals have interest in getting a long-term deal done, but it’s unclear exactly how much interest. He expects that nothing will come together prior to the July 15 deadline, which means Green will have to play out the 2020 season on his franchise tender. While there’s a better chance Cincinnati comes to terms with RB Joe Mixon on a new contract, that will not happen before a decision on Green is made. The Bengals are reportedly bracing themselves for a Mixon holdout.
  • In the same piece linked above, Dehner says the Bengals are unlikely to make any free agent additions to the O-line at this point. In a separate piece, he notes that Cincinnati made a free agent splash on cornerbacks in free agency because it did not like this year’s CB draft class. The team did not take a defensive back with any of its seven selections.

Bengals HC: A.J. Green Is “Fully Healthy”

Last year, A.J. Green missed the entire season thanks to a foot injury. Last month, the Bengals cuffed him with the franchise tag anyway. Fortunately, the wide receiver appears to be “fully healthy,” according to head coach Zac Taylor

[RELATED: Bengals Won’t Rule Out Keeping Dalton]

Everything’s been positive with A.J.,” Taylor said in a virtual presser on Wednesday. “He’s fully healthy and is working hard. He’s been in Atlanta. It’s all been positive in that regard.”

The franchise tag will pay Green roughly $18MM in 2020, a steep price given Green’s age and questions about his foot. As he looks ahead to his 32nd birthday in July, Green is preparing to prove himself all over again.

Meanwhile, Green has been vocally opposed to playing on the franchise tag. It remains to be seen whether he’ll get the long-term deal that he wants – he’s been largely unstoppable throughout his career, but the Bengals may be fearful of committing major dollars to him beyond 2020.

I have no problem with the franchise (tag). I don’t like it, but I’m not a guy that’s going to sit out the whole year,Green said in December. “But at the end of the day, that shows me they’re not committed to me. That’s fine. They have a business they have to run. As the player I have my own business, so if you do that I have to protect myself.”

If you’re not committed to me long-term, I understand. There are no hard feelings. You have a business to run. All great businesses face difficult decisions. I understand that. For me, I have to make a big decision as well.”

Green qualified for the Pro Bowl in each of his first seven NFL seasons and he’s tallied more than 1,000 yards in every campaign with at least 13 games played. He’s also gone for double-digit touchdowns in three separate seasons with a career average of almost 15 yards per catch.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals Plan To Franchise Tag A.J. Green

MARCH 16: Less than two hours before the tag-applying deadline, the Bengals informed Green he will be tagged, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. The 31-year-old standout voiced opposition to this move months ago and is coming off a season-long absence.

But after Burrow indicated he would like to have Green in the fold, should he become Cincinnati’s top pick, the Bengals followed through on their expected course of action. A Green tag will cost the Bengals $17.9MM.

MARCH 1: The Bengals plan to put the franchise tag on wide receiver A.J. Green, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The club wants him back in 2020, either on the tag or under a new multi-year pact.

The move will not make Green too happy, as he has previously indicated that he is opposed to the franchise tag. He conceded he would not engage in a season-long holdout if he and Cincinnati cannot work out a new contract, but he is open to holding out throughout the offseason program and training camp. Given that the Bengals will presumably have rookie QB Joe Burrow under center in 2020, Green’s presence during the spring and summer months will be especially crucial, so look for the team to ramp up negotiations in short order.

Of course, determining fair market value for Green won’t be easy. He will doubtlessly be shooting for the top of the wide receiver market, and his abilities and track record make that a fair ask. But he missed the entire 2019 campaign due to an ankle injury, and he hasn’t suited up for a game since Week 13 of the 2018 season. Plus, he will be 32 before the 2020 regular season gets underway, so player and team may have a hard time finding a middle ground.

The Bengals would not have been a playoff team in 2019 even with a healthy Green, but his presence was sorely missed. Cincinnati’s offense was one of the least efficient units in the league last year, and the club finished near the bottom of the pack in terms of yards per game and points per game.

Green, who made the Pro Bowl in each of his first seven years in the league, has topped 1,000 yards every year in which he has appeared in at least 13 games. He has averaged nearly 15 yards per catch in his career, and he has reach double-digit touchdowns three times. He was, without question, one of the best receivers in the league. The Bengals need to figure out if he still is.

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AFC North Notes: Bengals, Browns, Hurst

Were Joe Burrow to be drafted by the Bengals, he wants the team to keep A.J. Green. The Bengals are believed to be zeroing in on the Heisman winner, who told NFL.com’s Jim Trotter he would like Green to be back in Cincinnati — if, in fact, the Bengals follow through on drafting the LSU quarterback (video link). The franchise tag window opens Thursday, and the Bengals have been linked to tagging Green. The nine-year veteran has voiced opposition to this, going into his age-32 season, but said he would play on the tag. However, Green also indicated he would likely miss extensive offseason workouts. An injury last summer shelved Green for all of 2019.

Here is the latest from the AFC North:

  • The Ravens have seen 2018 third-round tight end Mark Andrews become Lamar Jackson‘s top target, leaving 2018 first-round tight end Hayden Hurst in a strange position. The former minor league baseball player-turned-South Carolina football prospect may be on the trade block, with Jeff Howe of The Athletic tweeting there is a “real chance” the Ravens trade Hurst. The former Pirates draftee played hurt as a rookie and caught 30 passes for 349 yards last season. Andrews caught 64 passes for a Ravens-most 852 yards in 2019. For what it’s worth, the tight end-needy Patriots have not contacted the Ravens about Hurst, Howe adds (on Twitter), but Hurst may be a name to monitor in Baltimore in the coming weeks.
  • The Browns will meet with Joe Schobert‘s agent at the Combine, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes. After being so far apart on terms with ex-GM John Dorsey, Schobert is back in the picture to stay in Cleveland, Cabot adds. New GM Andrew Berry‘s hire has reopened the lines of communication with the Browns’ top tackler. Cleveland already has Christian Kirksey attached to a big contract, but the linebacker has struggled with injuries since signing that extension and may be a cap casualty.
  • David Njoku stands as player who likely would have been gone had Dorsey and Freddie Kitchens stayed in power, Cabot adds. But with Kevin Stefanski planning more two-tight end sets, the 2017 first-round pick looks likelier to stay in Cleveland. Having Berry back doesn’t hurt here, either, with the Sashi Brown-Berry-Paul DePodesta regime being in power when Njoku was drafted.
  • Although Dorsey upgraded the Browns’ talent level, his offensive line acquisitions did not pan out. The Browns will not re-sign Greg Robinson, and 2018 right tackle addition Chris Hubbard may be elsewhere next season as well. However, the Browns will likely spend big on at least one offensive lineman, Cabot adds. Jack Conklin, Brandon Scherff and Joe Thuney profile as the top targets who are in line to reach free agency.

Bengals Personnel Director On Green, Dalton, Mixon

Bengals receiver A.J. Green missed the entire 2019 campaign due to an ankle injury, and the last time he suited up for a game was in Week 13 of the 2018 regular season. Given his age (he will be 32 by the time the 2020 regular gets underway) and recent injury history, there has been plenty of speculation that the rebuilding Cincinnati outfit might move on from its franchise icon this offseason.

But that’s not necessarily the case. On Wednesday, Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin told reporters, including Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer, that he plans on having Green back in 2020 (Twitter link). Tobin said “all options are on the table,” which presumably means that the franchise tag and a multiyear pact are in play. Green has previously indicated that he is opposed to the franchise tag, though he did concede that he would not engage in a season-long holdout if he is hit with the tag.

The tag value for wideouts checks in at a whopping $18.5MM, a lot of coin for an aging player who has missed 23 of his team’s last 24 games. A long-term deal would also be quite costly, because with a fairly light free agent receiver class — which gets a lot lighter if Amari Cooper and Emmanuel Sanders re-up with their current teams — Green would likely still command top-dollar on the open market.

On the other hand, a receiver of Green’s caliber would be a major boon to the team’s offense, especially if the Bengals draft Joe Burrow and put him under center right away. The two sides were recently said to be far apart on contract talks, so this is shaping up to be one of this offseason’s most prominent storylines.

Tobin also touched on quarterback Andy Dalton and running back Joe Mixon. The consensus seems to be that the Bengals will look to trade Dalton or cut him if the right deal comes along, but there is also a possibility that he returns as a bridge to Burrow, as Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com writes. As with Green, Tobin said he has not ruled out any options when it comes to Dalton.

Mixon, meanwhile, is eligible for an extension for the first time this offseason, and Tobin plans to explore that possibility. Despite being one of the few dangerous skill position players on the team in 2019, Mixon went over 1,100 yards rushing for the second straight season, and he certainly looks the part of a long-term feature back.

Tobin suggested that the Bengals may be more active in the free agent market than they historically have been, but if they are earmarking a significant amount of money for Mixon and Green, they may not be able to spend as freely as they might like. But they should have enough cap space to make a few key signings, especially if they part ways with Dalton.

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Bengals Place A.J. Green On IR

A.J. Green‘s season is officially over. On Monday, the Bengals placed the wide receiver on injured reserve. 

Green, at one point, was hoping to take the field before the end of the 2019 season. But, with little to play for, the Bengals have opted against trotting Green out in the season finale against the Browns.

With that, Green’s campaign will end without a single snap. In theory, this could also mark the end of his Bengals career. The star receiver is set for free agency in March, though the Bengals could work out an extension with him, or cuff him with the franchise tag.

Green, of course, does not want to be tagged, but he also says he won’t hold out if the Bengals go that route.

I have no problem with the franchise (tag). I don’t like it, but I’m not a guy that’s going to sit out the whole year,” Green said. “But at the end of the day, that shows me they’re not committed to me. That’s fine. They have a business they have to run. As the player I have my own business, so if you do that I have to protect myself.”

If you’re not committed to me long-term, I understand. There are no hard feelings. You have a business to run. All great businesses face difficult decisions. I understand that. For me, I have to make a big decision as well.”

To date, Green has 602 catches for 8,907 yards and 63 touchdowns, all with the Bengals. He still has his eye on a handful of remaining franchise records, including Chad Johnson’s watermarks for most receiving yards (10,784), catches (752), and touchdowns (70).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.