A.J. Green

Browns Get Down To 53

The Browns became the second team after the Panthers to officially announce their initial 53-man roster, waiving 24 players to get down. Here’s everybody they cut, with a recap on some notables at the bottom:

One of the biggest names on this list is Thomas, who the Browns drafted 67th overall in 2018. He barely played as a rookie, but he started eight games and had four sacks last year. The Browns are loaded along the defensive line, so it would’ve been tough for him to find snaps. He’s a definite practice squad candidate assuming he doesn’t get claimed.

Taylor flashed some potential with the Titans and had 466 yards with Tennessee in 2018, but failed to make a dent after getting traded to Cleveland last year. Ratley is another receiver who got cut, and he started three games each of the past two years. The 2018 sixth-rounder from Texas A&M had 200 yards and a touchdown last season.

Gilbert spent last season as Baker Mayfield‘s backup after he lit it up in the ill-fated AAF, but he was made expendable by the offseason addition of Case Keenum. He should get another shot elsewhere or on the practice squad.

AFC North Notes: Green, Browns, Ravens

In addition to the lengthy foot rehab in which A.J. Green participated recently, the veteran Bengals wide receiver missed more than a week of training camp because of a hamstring issue. Green entered Wednesday having not practice since August 17, but the 10th-year receiver was back in action this afternoon, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Tyler Dragon (on Twitter). While Green was wearing a sleeve on his left leg, he was working in pads for the Bengals for the first time since last year. The 32-year-old wideout missed all of last year but did practice at points during the season. The Bengals placed the franchise tag on their longtime standout, who is set to play the 2020 season on a $17.9MM salary.

Here is the latest from the AFC North:

  • Already down rookie safety Grant Delpit for the season, the Browns will be without their other LSU cog in the secondary for an undetermined time frame. Greedy Williams is dealing with a shoulder injury, and new Browns HC Kevin Stefanski has yet to indicate that the first-string cornerback will be able to return soon, per Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. Williams missed four games last season but started all 12 in which he played.
  • The Browns should be expected to explore an Earl Thomas addition, per Yahoo.com’s Charles Robinson (on Twitter), but the team may not be a frontrunner. Cleveland lost Delpit but has offseason acquisitions Karl Joseph and Andrew Sendejo in the fold.
  • On the subject of Thomas, his subtraction from the Ravens secondary will indeed bump third-year safety DeShon Elliott into the starting lineup. John Harbaugh confirmed the former sixth-round pick will receive the first crack at replacing Thomas alongside Chuck Clark, Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic notes (subscription required). This will be an interesting promotion, with Elliott having only played in six games during his two-year career. Elliott landed on Baltimore’s IR in both 2018 and ’19, missing all of his rookie season and the latter portion of last season.
  • The quartet of kickers the Browns worked out last week does not represent an immediate threat to Austin Seibert‘s job. Instead, the team is forming an emergency list due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Of course, other teams can and have adjusted this list. The Patriots signed one of the kickers the Browns previously brought in, Nick Folk, earlier this week. The Browns also worked out Cody Parkey, Kai Forbath and Matthew McCrane.

A.J. Green Signs Franchise Tender

Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green has signed his franchise tender, the team announced. With that, the soon-to-be 32-year-old will report to training camp on-time later this month.

It seemed unlikely that the two sides would agree to a long-term deal prior to Wednesday’s deadline given Green’s age and his recent injury history. But Cincinnati was not about to let him walk in free agency this year, so the club slapped the seven-time Pro Bowler with the franchise tag.

Green had previously expressed that he was not a big fan of the tag, but he also said he would not hold out if he did not get the multi-year pact that he was seeking. However, the fact that he signed the tender is still notable. Prior to signing it, he could have skipped training camp and the preseason and still earned his full salary, and there was recent speculation that the Bengals might consider rescinding the tag because of how much it costs (roughly $18MM) and the current financial climate. Considering Green’s abilities and the fact that the team will have rookie QB Joe Burrow under center, rescinding the tag never felt like a real possibility, but now both sides know they will be together from training camp forward.

Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic says the Bengals still want to sign Green long-term (Twitter link). While they of course cannot negotiate again until after the 2020 campaign, Dehner expects the team to make a “hard push” for a new deal at season’s end if Green looks anything like his old self.

And the interest, apparently, is mutual. Green said he wants to play for another four seasons and retire as a Bengal (Twitter link via Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com). If he does, Green will surpass Chad Johnson to become the team’s all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving TDs. He is currently trailing Johnson in all three categories, but not by much.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC North Notes: OBJ, Green, Andrews, Steelers

It’s been almost three years since Odell Beckham Jr. fractured his left ankle, and while the star wideout has yet to return to the Pro Bowl, he’s managed to put up back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. However, in an alternative universe, OBJ may have decided to hang up his cleats following that 2017 campaign.

Appearing alongside Cam Newton, Todd Gurley, and Victor Cruz on his YouTube series The Bigger Picture, Beckham admitted that he almost retired following the injury.

“I said this in college, I said, ‘I fear the day that they make this game a business and not what I love,’” Beckham said. “And when I seen that for the first time after breaking my ankle, like I thought about like not playing no more. Like this is not really it for me because they’ve ruined the game of football for me a little bit.”

OBJ didn’t elaborate on what the Giants did to upset him during that 2017 campaign, although it’s worth noting that the receiver had rushed back from a preseason ankle sprain. The veteran’s tenure with New York ended last offseason when he was traded to the Browns, and the 27-year-old proceeded to appear in all 16 games for the first time since 2016.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the AFC North…

  • When we learned yesterday that A.J. Green wasn’t going to sign an extension with the Bengals, it was made clear that he’ll willingly play the 2020 season under the franchise tag. Of course, that could be temporary lip service; since the wideout hasn’t signed the tender, he could skip training camp and preseason and still earn his full salary. However, as Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com notes, until Green officially signs the tender, the Bengals have the ability to rescind the franchise tag. This would save the organization almost $18MM, and while it’d be a somewhat unprecedented move, Florio notes that “in an unprecedented year, it’s impossible to rule anything out.”
  • The Steelers have made some changes to their coaching staff. As Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com passes along, Blaine Stewart is now the assistant wide receivers coach and Denzel Martin is now the assistant outside linebackers coach. The duo had previously served as coaching assistants. The organization also shook up their scouting department, promoting Chidi Iwuoma from BLESTO scout to a college scouting position and Dennis MacInnis from scouting intern to BLESTO scout.
  • While Ravens tight end Mark Andrews has Type 1 diabetes, he made it clear that he won’t be opting out of the 2020 season due to health concerns. “We’ve got a big year coming up,” Andrews said (via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com). “I want to be able to do a lot of things, and … just being able to help this team win is exciting for me.” The former third-rounder earned his first Pro Bowl nod last season after hauling in 64 receptions for 852 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Bengals’ A.J. Green Unlikely To Receive Extension

No surprise here. With hours to go before the franchise tag extension deadline, there’s little optimism that the Bengals and A.J. Green will come to an accord, as ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler tweets. Green has yet to formally sign his franchise tag, but the expectation is that he will play on it. There will be no holdout, and there will be no extension for the wide receiver – at least, until sometime after the 2020 season. 

[RELATED: Bengals’ John Ross Entering Make-Or-Break Year]

All along, Green has made it clear that he’ll show up for work, no matter what. That doesn’t mean he’ll be a happy camper, however.

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 late last year. “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, who will turn 32 at the end of the month, missed all of last season and roughly half of his 2018 campaign to injury. Before that, he was a Pro Bowler in each of his first seven NFL seasons. And, in every season in which he’s played at least 13 games, he’s topped 1,000 yards receiving.

Despite his age and injury history, the Bengals applied the one-year, ~$18MM tag to Green to keep him from reaching free agency. Green, meanwhile, wants long-term security at a rate that reflects his past accomplishments. Green didn’t get far in talks with the Bengals this year, but he is “fully healthy” and eager to reassert himself as one of the game’s premier offensive players.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: How Many Tagged Players Will Land Extensions?

A day away from the deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign extensions, the NFL finally saw a player from this year’s group do so. The Chiefs’ Chris Jones extension represents the outlier move thus far. Discounting Jones’ deal, how many more tagged players will sign by the 3pm CT deadline Wednesday?

The 14 remaining tagged players reside in limbo for various reasons — from uncertainties about their career trajectories to the pandemic clouding the NFL’s financial future. There could be plenty of players going through the 2020 season on guaranteed one-year deals, which would both table key negotiations for several months and add to the 2021 free agent market.

Here is how everything looks with the tagged group as of Tuesday afternoon:

Already Signed Tag

*Received transition tag (vs. franchise tag)

Hasn’t Signed Tag, Won’t Hold Out

Hasn’t Signed Tag, Threatening Holdout

More players were tagged this year than in 2018 and ’19 combined. This represents the largest contingent of tagged performers since 2012, when 19 were tagged. That also came in an era when of salary cap stagnancy. After steady cap growth since 2014, the league’s best hope may be for the 2021 cap to plateau. The coronavirus has threatened to keep fans out of stadiums, with limited capacity being the likely best-case scenario. That will cost the league upwards of $3 billion, and the NFL-NFLPA talks about how to manage this have transpired for several weeks without a resolution.

But deadlines, per the cliche, incite action. Will this year be the exception? Are teams willing to carry big tag salaries on their books? Or will they prefer that to signing off on long-term extensions before the cap reality clears up? Vote in PFR’s latest poll (link for app users) and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.