A.J. Green

Extension Candidate: Bengals WR A.J. Green

As one of the league’s most feared wide receivers, an extension for A.J. Green should be fairly simple. Unfortunately, after yet another injury-shortened season, the negotiations figure to be a bit complicated. 

On the plus side, Bengals owner Mike Brown has indicated that he wants Green to remain in Cincinnati on a new deal.

Oh, I think he’s a proven commodity, isn’t he?,” Brown said in March. “The price range for him will be something we can figure out, it will come together. It’s true with anyone, if they suddenly get an injury..it reduces them. Well that changes the equation, but I never plan on that happening. I like to think that won’t happen. If A.J. is healthy, he’s as good a receiver as anybody in the league.”

Ditto for Green:

Cincinnati is home for me,” Green said recently. “I’ve been here nine years. This is home as much as South Carolina. All I know is Cincinnati. I can’t see myself playing anywhere else or playing in a different city. Hopefully I can be here for a couple more years, so we’ll see on that part.”

Will Green have himself a fat new contract before or soon after his 31st birthday in July? That may depend on his willingness to accept a bit of a hometown discount.

Green has missed 13 games due to injury over the past three seasons and the Bengals, historically, have not been big spenders. They’ve also recently extended teammates Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap, so their flexibility is somewhat limited.

Green finished out the 2018 season with just 46 catches for 694 yards and six touchdowns, but when his nine-game season is adjusted for 16 games, those numbers are right in line with his career 75/1,113/8 average. It’s also worth noting that ’18 was only Green’s second season to fall shy of the 1,000-yard mark. The only other time that happened was in 2016, when he came just 36 yards shy, despite playing in just ten games.

Ultimately, a new deal for Green should put him right around Odell Beckham Jr.’s $18MM average annual value, particularly if fellow receivers Julio Jones and Michael Thomas ink their next deals first. Of course, Green’s deal will be shorter in length than OBJs, or, at the very least, have a much lighter load of guarantees beyond Year 2.

For now, Green is set to enter the final season of his four-year, $60MM contract.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Green, Bears, Mack, Steelers

A.J. Green is entering the final season of a four-year, $60MM contract. He is also coming off another injury-shortened slate, with a toe malady cutting it short. Bengals owner Mike Brown said earlier this year he would be interested in Green staying in Cincinnati on another deal. Green expressed the same sentiment over the weekend.

Cincinnati is home for me,” Green said, via FOX 19 in Cincinnati (video link). “I’ve been here nine years. This is home as much as South Carolina. All I know is Cincinnati. I can’t see myself playing anywhere else or playing in a different city. Hopefully I can be here for a couple more years, so we’ll see on that part.”

Green is entering his age-31 season and has missed 13 games over the past three years, but the seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver has proven to be one of the best players in Bengals history. The Bengals extended two other cornerstones last year, in Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap, and Brown called the wideout a “proven commodity” earlier this year. No known talks have commenced between Green and Bengals. The receiver also said, via FOX 19, he has been cleared from the toe surgery he underwent in December. It is not certain if he will participate in Cincinnati’s minicamp next week.

Here is the latest from the North divisions:

  • During the 2018 Khalil Mack pursuit, Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy began calling their Raiders counterparts (Reggie McKenzie and Jon Gruden) about the All-Pro edge defender once training camp began last year. But the Bears’ prevailing thought as of late July 2018 was, in the words of player personnel director Josh Lucas, “What are we doing? They’re not going to trade this guy,” Lucas said (via J.J. Stankevitz of NBC Sports Chicago). But shortly before Chicago’s final preseason game — which occurred a day after the Aaron Donald extension, and as the Raiders’ patience with Mack was running out — Bears brass were told to submit their best offer. That proposal (a package fronted by two first-round picks and a third-rounder) won out. “I think we had an advantage because they wanted him to get out of the AFC, so being an NFC team, I think we had a pretty good chance,” Lucas said. “I don’t think the Raiders thought we were going to be any good last year, so they wanted our first-round pick. So I think that played a part of it.
  • After Adrian Amos and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix started the 2018 season as Bears and Packers safeties, the respective back-line defenders switched cities this year. Clearly on a roll at the Bears100 Celebration this week, Lucas added (via Stankevitz, on Twitter) the Bears consistently graded Clinton-Dix as superior to Amos. Pro Football Focus would disagree with the Bears’ assessment, particularly in 2017 (when the site gave Amos a 90.9 grade and Clinton-Dix a 71.5 mark). The Bears also landed Clinton-Dix for far cheaper (one year, $3MM) than the deal the Packers gave Amos (four years, $36MM), pointing to other teams sharing PFF’s view.
  • Sean Davis switched agents in advance of his contract year, moving from MBK sports management to Drew Rosenhaus, the safety confirmed (via Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). Davis said no extension talks have occurred between he and the Steelers and noted the safety market’s 2019 explosion as a reason he may bet on himself this season. “I just felt like I needed a change,” Davis said, via Fittipaldo, of switching from Eugene Lee to Rosenhaus. “Drew is a top agent, man. … The safety market went up this year. That puts a little more pressure on me to get the job done and to compete for those contracts.” After faring better as a free safety than he did at the strong safety spot in 2017, Davis will remain there this season.

Andy Dalton To Be Fully Healthy For Offseason Program

The Bengals are heading into a transitional year. After a very disappointing 2018 season, the Bengals finally moved on from longtime coach Marvin Lewis. To replace him, they hired 35-year-old whizkid Zac Taylor away from the Rams.

Part of the reason 2018 was so disappointing was because of the season-ending injury quarterback Andy Dalton suffered. Fortunately for Cincinnati, Dalton is fully recovered from his thumb surgery and will be a full-go when OTA practices start, according to Geoff Hobson of the team’s official site. There were murmurs earlier this offseason that the team could look to move on from Dalton and go younger at the position, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. That being said, owner Mike Brown made it clear the team wasn’t in a rush to extend him recently.

“I think it’s a good year for (Dalton) to show like he can, like we think he will. After he re-establishes himself we would want to get together with him and see if we can extend it. I think Andy is a good player and that he will rebound off last year. He was hurt. We lost so many other pieces. It fell apart, but if he’s healthy and we stay healthy enough, I have confidence in him,” Brown said, issuing a slightly less than ringing endorsement.

Dalton was having a decent enough season before going down, but unfortunately he hasn’t been anything better than decent the past few years. Even though the team has publicly proclaimed confidence in him, it still wouldn’t be surprising to see the Bengals draft a quarterback early later this month.

The Bengals’ offense completely collapsed once Jeff Driskel took over following the injury, which at least showed the Bengals’ struggles weren’t all about Dalton. He wasn’t the only high profile Bengal to have their season cut short with an injury, as star receiver A.J. Green was limited to just nine games. Green struggled with a toe injury all year and was hurt a lot in 2016 as well, but Brown said at the same time he made his comments on Dalton that the team wanted to extend Green. Hobson writes that he expects the Bengals “to ease Green along” this offseason, whereas Dalton should be a full-go for practices.

If Dalton doesn’t make major strides under Taylor, it’s highly possible if not probable that the team will move on next offseason. One thing that’s helped him stick this far has been his reasonable contract. Dalton has two years left on his deal with a total of $33.5MM owed to him. It’s a pivotal year for Dalton, and the fact that he’ll be fully healthy to begin picking up the new system is a very positive development.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals Open To A.J. Green Extension?

The Bengals sound open to an extension for wide receiver A.J. Green, as Fletcher Page of The Enquirer writes. However, that’s not the case for quarterback Andy Dalton

Oh, I think he’s a proven commodity, isn’t he?,” Bengals owner Mike Brown said. “The price range for him will be something we can figure out, it will come together. It’s true with anyone, if they suddenly get an injury..it reduces them. Well that changes the equation, but I never plan on that happening. I like to think that won’t happen. If A.J. is healthy, he’s as good a receiver as anybody in the league.”

Health, of course, was an issue for Green last year. The perennial Pro Bowler saw his season end in early December, marking the second time in three years that his season ended on IR. Still, Green finished out with 46 catches for 694 yards and six touchdowns in nine games, numbers that put him on pace for his usually strong output across a 16-game season.

Green has one year left on the four-year, $60MM extension he inked with the Bengals in 2015. Since then, he’s watched many other receivers leapfrog him in salary. When it comes to yearly salary, seven WRs rank ahead of Green: Odell Beckham Jr., Antonio Brown, Mike Evans, DeAndre Hopkins, Brandin Cooks, Sammy Watkins, and Jarvis Landry all earn more than Green’s $15MM/year average.

Meanwhile, a new deal for Dalton sounds unlikely to happen anytime soon.

I think it’s a good year for (Dalton) to show like he can, like we think he will. After he re-establishes himself we would want to get together with him and see if we can extend it,” Brown said when asked about Dalton, who has two years to go on his deal. “I think Andy is a good player and that he will rebound off last year. He was hurt. We lost so many other pieces. It fell apart, but if he’s healthy and we stay healthy enough, I have confidence in him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals Place A.J. Green On IR

It’s official. On Wednesday morning, the Bengals formally placed star wide receiver A.J. Green on injured reserve. To fill his place on the roster, the Bengals activated fifth-round cornerback Davontae Harris from IR. 

[RELATED: Latest On Marvin Lewis]

This marks the second time in three seasons that Green has ended a season on IR. Green has been in and out of the Bengals’ lineup all year and the team clearly missed him when he was sidelined for three November games. After starting the season 4-1, the Bengals have dropped to 5-7 and are looking to stop a four-game losing streak without the services of Green or quarterback Andy Dalton.

Green’s nagging toe injury held him back earlier this season and he had to be carted off the field after re-aggravating the malady during Sunday’s loss to the Broncos. His season ends with 46 catches for 694 yards and six touchdowns. The Bengals, meanwhile, are effectively mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

Without Green, the Bengals will turn to Tyler Boyd, John Ross, and former UDFA Alex Erickson as their top receivers. They’ll be catching passes from Jeff Driskel as the Bengals wrap up their season against the Chargers, Raiders, Browns, and Steelers. Currently, the Bengals are on course for the No. 13 overall pick in the draft.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

A.J. Green To Undergo Surgery

A.J. Green‘s season is over. The seven-time Pro Bowl Bengals wide receiver will undergo surgery to repair torn ligaments in his injured toe, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

This procedure will sideline Green for as many as four months, per Schefter. But Green is expected to be ready in time for Bengals OTAs. A procedural IR move will occur; it will mark the second time in three seasons Green will end a season on Cincinnati’s injured list.

After gliding to a 4-1 start, the Bengals have fallen out of AFC contention. Their four-game losing streak can be, in a large part, traced to their best player’s unavailability. Green’s toe injury forced him to miss three November games, and he appeared to re-aggravate the issue during Sunday’s loss to the Broncos. A cart transported Green to the locker room, and that will be the final time fans see Green in uniform in 2018.

A hamstring injury led to Green going on IR late in 2016. He missed three games that season. He’ll end up missing seven this year. Green’s season concludes with 46 receptions, 694 yards and six touchdowns. He is under contract — via the four-year, $60MM deal he signed in 2015 — for one more season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

WR A.J. Green Likely Out On Sunday

A.J. Green is set to miss his third straight game. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets that the Bengals have listed their star wide receiver as doubtful for tomorrow’s game against the Browns.

Rapoport notes that Green believed that he might be able to play through his toe injury, but he was still kept out of practice all week. ESPN’s Josina Anderson echoes (via Twitter) that Green won’t end up playing tomorrow, but he’s aiming for a return next weekend against the Broncos. Anderson adds that Green tested the toe today and saw signs of improvement, and there’s optimism that he’ll soon return to the field.

The 30-year-old was having another productive season, as he hauled in 45 receptions for 687 yards and six touchdowns through eight games. While the Bengals have lost both of their games without Green, the team still has plenty of offensive depth. Tyler Boyd and John Ross will continue to lead the receiver corps, while running backs Giovani Bernard and Joe Mixon will also provide Andy Dalton with reliable targets.

Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com notes that the Bengals also downgraded cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick from questionable to doubtful for tomorrow’s game. The 29-year-old has been battling a shoulder injury throughout the week. Cincinnati will likely turn to some combination of Darqueze DennardTony McRae, and Darius Phillips with Kirkpatrick out of the lineup.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

A.J. Green Expected Back For Week 12

Though the Bengals fell to the Ravens on Sunday, 24-21, the team did get one bit of good news. Seven-time Pro Bowl wideout A.J. Green is expected to be ready for the team’s upcoming matchup against the Browns, ESPN’s Josina Anderson hears (Twitter link). 

Green has been sidelined since he suffered a toe injury on the last series vs. Tampa Bay in Week 8. With the injury coming just before Cincinnati’s bye week, the star receiver has only missed two games, defeats to New Orleans and Baltimore. The Bengals sputtered in both affairs, amassing just 174 yards through the air vs. the Saints, and following it up with 211 vs. the Ravens. Before he went down, Green was leading the Bengals in receiving yards (687) and touchdowns (six).

There was a remote possibility he could’ve suited up in today’s loss, but was ruled out after testing out his injured toe in warmups. With the team at 5-5 heading into Week 12, the Bengals are in a must-win game vs. the division-rival Browns to keep pace in the hunt for a wild-card berth. They are currently tied for the final spot with the Ravens, Titans, Colts and Dolphins.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC North Notes: Ravens, Bengals, Bell

It could be the dawn of a new era in Baltimore. As expected, 2018 first-round pick Lamar Jackson will get his first start under center for the Ravens today in place of an ailing Joe Flacco, as Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com writes. However, ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets that Flacco is not expected to need surgery on his hip, so while his status for next week’s contest against the Raiders is up in the air, he could be ready for the stretch run. But if Jackson performs well and can keep the Ravens’ playoff hopes alive, head coach John Harbaugh — who is facing the end of his tenure in Baltimore — will have a very difficult decision to make. Jackson has reportedly shown considerable improvement in practice this week, and anticipation for his debut is running high.

Now for more from the AFC North:

  • It’s not just Flacco and Harbaugh who could be seeing their Ravens careers draw to a close. As Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic writes, today’s game feels like a last stand of sorts for a number of players. If Baltimore loses, it will be all but eliminated from playoff contention, and as the team transitions to a new GM and possibly a new head coach, veterans like Flacco, Terrell Suggs, C.J. Mosley, and Michael Crabtree could all be on their way out.
  • Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that Bengals WR A.J. Green, who is inactive today, did at least travel with the team and worked out this morning. That suggests he could be ready to return next week.
  • We learned earlier this week that new Bengals assistant Hue Jackson won’t have a role in the team’s offense, but the defense is a different story. Tom Pelissero and Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network report that Jackson is spending all of his time on the defensive side of the ball, and Garafolo suggests that Jackson could become Cincinnati’s defensive play-caller in a few weeks (Twitter links). Right now, head coach Marvin Lewis is still making the defensive calls, but Jackson has been present for the defensive meetings and is bringing a spark and excitement to that unit.
  • Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says the Steelers made an eleventh hour push to get Le’Veon Bell to rejoin the team before last Tuesday’s deadline. They reportedly outlined the significant role they had in mind for him for the remainder of the season, and they made it clear that they wanted him back. They also made him aware that they intend to use the transition tag on him this offseason, but Bell simply had no interest in playing in 2018.
  • In a separate piece, La Canfora examines the free agent market for Bell. Many GMs and cap experts believe Bell overplayed his hand, as does former NFL agent Joel Corry (Twitter link). But as Corry points out, it only takes one team to give Bell the money he wants and to make him and his agent look quite savvy, and Rapoport indicates that the market for Bell’s services could be more vibrant than many expect (video link). Rapoport says Bell is looking for a front-loaded five-year, $85MM pact, and he suggests that may not be a huge stretch given the number of cash-flush teams that could be in play for him.
  • We learned earlier today that the Browns are interested in interviewing former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for their head coaching job at the end of the season, though GM John Dorsey has released a statement quelling that rumor.

AFC North Notes: Harbaugh, Flacco, Green

We learned last week that Ravens HC John Harbaugh is on the hot seat, and the team’s Week 9 loss to the division-rival Steelers did not do him any favors. Today, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that Baltimore and Harbaugh are indeed heading for a “mutual parting of the ways.” While it is highly unlikely that Harbaugh will be fired before the end of the season — there is, after all, no dysfunction in the locker room and there are no obvious in-house candidates to replace Harbaugh — La Canfora says that 2018 is likely to be Harbaugh’s last on the Ravens’ sidelines. With the team transitioning to a new GM and facing a potential roster overhaul, both parties appear prepared to move on amicably.

Now for more from the AFC North:

  • One name who could be part of the Ravens‘ above-referenced overhaul, of course, is quarterback Joe Flacco. Flacco is battling a hip injury and has been spotted on crutches, though Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network describes the injury as more of a day-to-day malady than a week-to-week one (video link). So if Flacco can practice when the Ravens return to the field in a couple of days — they are on a bye this week — he will likely play. But Rapoport says Baltimore is “relishing” the uncertainty that the situation is creating for the team’s next opponent, the Bengals, and he expects first-round pick Lamar Jackson to get increased snaps whether Flacco plays or not.
  • As Adam Schefter of ESPN.com observes, Flacco’s injury does have a silver lining for the Ravens. If he is unable to suit up for next week’s game or for the next several games, Baltimore would have a better idea of where Jackson is at the moment — he is reportedly still struggling in practice — which would allow the club to better determine whether to retain Flacco in 2019 or move on.
  • Rapoport tweets that Bengals WR A.J. Green is “likely” to miss next week’s game against the Ravens, though there is a chance he will be able to suit up. That is a rosier outlook than the one presented by Schefter, who said earlier this week that Green will definitely miss the Ravens game and could miss multiple games after that. Schefter doubled down on that report today, saying that a December return is looking increasingly likely (Twitter link). Rapoport says 2018 seventh-rounder Auden Tate, who was waived last month but who was signed to the practice squad just one day later, has impressed and will see plenty of snaps in Green’s absence. Tate was promoted from the practice squad on Monday.
  • Although reports have suggested that the Browns will take a different approach to their head coach hiring process this time around, their are plenty of people in the coaching community who are still concerned about how the search will play out. La Canfora writes that team owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam do not have a good reputation in coaching circles, and they have been increasingly hands-on during their ownership, so it is fair to wonder whether GM John Dorsey will truly be running the show. There is even skepticism within the Browns’ organization that Dorsey will be given full autonomy, as the Haslams hired Hue Jackson over the protestations of almost all of their football operations staff, which wanted to hire Sean McDermott instead.
  • We learned earlier today that the Steelers are likely to put the transition tag on Le’Veon Bell, and we took another look at Bell’s future in the league.