A.J. Green

AFC North Notes: Tomlin, Green, Browns

There may be plenty of Steelers fans unhappy with head coach Mike Tomlin, but he has navigated his team through some turbulent waters over the last couple of seasons, and after starting the 2019 campaign 0-3 and losing Ben Roethlisberger to injury, Pittsburgh is now 4-4 and is back in the AFC playoff picture. As Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com writes, Steelers players believe Tomlin is in the midst of one of his finest coaching performances, and that should go a long way towards quieting outside criticism. Thanks to an (admittedly unusual) one-year extension that he signed in July, Tomlin is under contract through 2021, and his standing within the organization seems strong.

Now for more from the AFC North:

  • Bengals WR A.J. Green will miss Sunday’s game against the Ravens after it was initially reported that he would be making his 2019 debut against Baltimore, and Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic believes the sudden turn of events could suggest that Green is preparing to sit out for the remainder of the season (which may be what he wanted all along). However, Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network observed that Green was working out on the field Sunday morning and says his ankle will be reassessed this week (Twitter link). As of right now, the team is not planning on shutting Green down for the year.
  • In addition to Green, the Bengals have been without LT Cordy Glenn all year. As Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, Glenn is still taking scout-team reps in practice, and it’s unclear whether he will be activated at all in 2019. Of course, Glenn and the Bengals are at odds over the team’s handling of his concussion, so it’s possible Glenn has already played his last snap for Cincinnati.
  • Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says the Browns‘ analytics department believed Vikings OC Kevin Stefanski, not Freddie Kitchens, was the right man for Cleveland’s head coaching job. Of course, the Browns went against that recommendation, but given the club’s disappointing 2019 season, the team could be back in the market for an HC in 2020, and if that happens, Stefanski — who was reportedly the runner-up to Kitchens — should be on the short list of potential replacements.
  • Browns RB Kareem Hunt will make his Cleveland debut against the Bills on Sunday after serving an eight-game suspension, and La Canfora says Hunt is expected to be a major part of the team’s offense right away. Even more importantly, Hunt has not only fulfilled all of the league’s requirements for reinstatement, but he has taken on a number of non-mandatory responsibilities. Per La Canfora, Hunt meets with women’s groups, participates in community service, and continues to speak to a counselor regularly.

A.J. Green Will Not Play In Week 10

Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green will not make his 2019 season debut on Sunday after all, as the veteran pass-catcher told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com (Twitter link). Green’s experienced ankle swelling during Cincinnati’s walkthrough on Wednesday, and the issue is serious enough to prevent him from playing against the Ravens in Week 10.

Green, of course, hasn’t played a single snap this season after suffering ankle damage during training camp. The Bengals opted not to put him on injured reserve to start the year, which would have mandated an absence of at least eight games. Green, clearly, has already missed that requisite amount of time, meaning Cincinnati has been playing a man down all year long.

The Bengals are reportedly not close to an extension with Green, who will become a free agent at season’s end. The former first-round pick has been adamant that he doesn’t want to be assigned the franchise tag next offseason, and it’s unclear if Cincinnati will honor that request.

“I don’t really care about (the contract negotiations),” Green told Jay Morrison of The Athletic (Twitter link). “If they’re worried about me not playing or not being healthy, then there’s 32 teams out there. I’m not really worried about that situation.”

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 he does hit the free agent market.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Updates: Bengals, Vikes, Cards, Jets

Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green had been expected to return to game action in Week 10 against the Ravens, and head coach Zac Taylor even confirmed as much this morning, per Paul Dehner of The Athletic (Twitter link). However, Green didn’t practice Wednesday after experiencing ankle swelling during Cincinnati’s walkthrough and is now considered day-to-day, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL.com, so it’s unclear if Green will still be ready for Baltimore. Green hasn’t played a single snap this year after suffering ankle damage during the preseason. When he does return, he’ll be catching passes from a new quarterback (rookie Ryan Finley) as he makes his case for an extension.

Here’s more on the injury front:

  • Adam Thielen returned to action last Sunday following a hamstring injury-induced absence and quickly re-aggravated the ailment, but Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer disputes that Thielen came back too quickly, tweets Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. While it’s not apparent if Thielen will play against the Cowboys in Week 10, it doesn’t appear the veteran wideout is dealing with a long-term injury. Minnesota faces Denver in Week 11 before heading to its bye, so the Vikings could conceivably take an overly-cautious approach and hold Thielen out until Week 13, although that could be difficult to do given the tight NFC playoff race.
  • Cardinals running back David Johnson has missed the past two games with back and ankle injuries, but he says he’ll “definitely” be playing when Arizona faces off with Tampa Bay this week, per Kyle Odegard of AZCardinals.com (Twitter link). With both Johnson and backup Chase Edmonds facing health questions, the Cardinals shipped a conditional sixth-round pick to the Dolphins for Kenyan Drake, who proceeded to rush for 110 yards against the 49ers in Week 9.
  • Le’Veon Bell did not suffer any structural damage to his knee in the fourth quarter of a Week 9 loss to the Dolphins, reports Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. While Bell didn’t practice on Wednesday, he is expected to be ready when the Jets face the Colts on Sunday. Gang Green did promote running back Josh Adams from its practice squad earlier this week, but that move was likely executed as a fail-safe against a possible Bell absence.
  • Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett left Week 9 after incurring a left MCL strain, but he was able to practice on a limited basis on Wednesday, according to Mike Wells of ESPN.com. That news should at least give Brissett a chance to play against the Dolphins on Sunday, although head coach Frank Reich noted it’s not a “slam dunk” that Brissett is available. Indianapolis would turn to veteran backup Brian Hoyer in Brissett’s absence.

Bengals, A.J. Green Not Close In Extension Talks

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals’ A.J. Green Doesn’t Want Franchise Tag

Bengals star A.J. Green says he’ll be ready to return on Nov. 9 against the Ravens (Twitter link via Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic). Meanwhile, he says he’s not on board with the possibility of being franchise tagged in the offseason. 

It’s a mix of good news and not-necessarily-good news for the Bengals. Obviously, getting the star wide receiver back in time for Ryan Finley’s first start is a step in the right direction. Green believes that the Bengals would not be 0-8 if he was healthy and it’s hard to argue. The Bengals have other weaknesses, but Green’s absence has been glaring in an offense that has relied on him for years.

Green’s franchise tag concerns, however, could signal trouble in Cincinnati. Before the injury, the Bengals and Green were unable to come to terms on a long-term extension that likely would have kept him in the fold for the rest of his career. Now, Green is making it known that he wants to restart talks ASAP. For reference, this year’s franchise tag for wide receivers projects to be around the $18.5MM range.

Green’s last full season was in 2017, when he compiled 75 receptions for 1,078 yards and eight touchdowns. On the whole, he’s been one of the game’s most productive WRs since entering the league in 2011. Green earned Pro Bowl honors in each of his first seven seasons and has topped 1,000 yards in six different seasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest on A.J. Green

A.J. Green is hopeful that he will make his return to the Bengals after their Week 9 bye, and sounded confident that he will be able to do so, according to NFL Network’s Omar Ruiz. Green told Ruiz that he just has to make sure his ankle can do everything he wants and to ensure that the injury will not linger on throughout the season and beyond.

The 31-year-old Green, who underwent surgery on his toe to repair torn ligaments last year and had a minor surgical procedure done to his ankle during training camp, has been participating in individual drills and practicing with the team the past couple of weeks with the hope he could return to the field before the bye week. Despite that hope, Green was ruled out for today’s game against the Rams. 

Many have speculated that the Bengals, who remain winless after they lost to the Rams 24-10 this afternoon, could look to trade the upcoming unrestricted free agent before the October 29th trade deadline to jump start a potential rebuild. However, despite there being much interest in the seven-time Pro Bowler, the Bengals are telling teams that Green is not available, according to FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer. Green recently told Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic that he would like to remain in Cincinnati for the rest of his career, similar to the way Larry Fitzgerald’s career has played out with the Cardinals. Fitzgerald has been with the Cardinals since 2004.

With the Patriots recently trading a second round pick to the Falcons for the 30-year-old Mohamed Sanu, it is curious that the Bengals are not at least listening to potential trade offers. Despite his recent injuries, if Green were to become available, he would undoubtedly be the top receiver available in a trade market where teams are willing to pay a premium for the position. Green’s last full season was in 2017, when he compiled 75 receptions for 1,078 yards and eight touchdowns.

Patriots Notes: Trades, Brady, Gronk

The Patriots made a couple of notable trades over the past week, acquiring wide receiver Mohamed Sanu and jettisoning defensive end Michael Bennett. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports that the team is not done dealing, and his sources say New England is continuing its efforts to strengthen its offense.

Even with Sanu in the fold, La Canfora says the Pats are still expected to pursue receiver help, and although all indications are that the Bengals won’t trade A.J. Green prior to Tuesday’s deadline, rival GMs expect Bill Belichick to take a run at him just the same. As reported previously, the club is also interested in bolstering its tight end group, and Cincinnati’s Tyler Eifert and Tampa’s O.J. Howard appeal to the Patriots. Additionally, New England remains in the market for O-line upgrades, with Washington’s Trent Williams, Cincinnati’s Cordy Glenn, and old friend and current Giant Nate Solder also potential targets.

Now for more out of Foxborough:

  • Despite La Canfora’s report that the Patriots will continue to be aggressive in the trade market, Michael Lombardi of The Athletic says the Pats are not involved in any deals right now, as they are quite limited in cap room (Twitter link). The Bennett trade helped to facilitate the Sanu acquisition, but if New England is going to make another splash, it may need to cut or restructure another player.
  • For the first time in 20 years, Tom Brady‘s future is uncertain, and one of the league’s most respected reporters, Adam Schefter, recently said that Brady staying with the Pats beyond 2019 is less likely than his retiring or suiting up for another club. Another of the NFL’s most prominent scribes, Ian Rapoport, doesn’t go as far as Schefter, but he does say that Brady’s tone with respect to his future has changed dramatically, and RapSheet confirms that TB12’s 2020 plans are very much up in the air (video link). On the other hand, Schefter points out that Brady’s strong relationships with Belichick and owner Robert Kraft — which were reportedly strained not that long ago — could convince the future Hall-of-Famer to stay in New England.
  • If Brady does play elsewhere in 2020, La Canfora says the Chargers would hold significant appeal to him given his connections to SoCal and his increasing interest in Hollywood.
  • Former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski recently stated in no uncertain terms that he would remain retired, but as Stefan Geller of the Boston Herald writes, that could still change. Gronk is calling on the league to allow players to use CBD products to aid in their recoveries, and if that happens, he suggested he could come back. “I also want to have the option to get back into the game, and if I’m banned next year, I can’t,” Gronkowski said. Gronkowski, obviously, is using CBD products and recently partnered with CBD Medic.
  • Tom Pelissero of NFL.com names Patriots special teams/WRs coach Joe Judge and ILB coach Jerod Mayo as two assistants who could garner head coaching interest during next year’s coaching carousel. While it would be a stretch to see the 33-year-old Mayo as an HC in 2020, especially since he just became an NFL coach seven month ago, it would not be surprising to see him get an interview.

AFC Notes: Dareus, Broncos, Green, Chiefs, Darnold

Marcell Dareus will undergo surgery today to repair a core muscle injury, sources tell Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). The defensive lineman is expected to miss 4-6 weeks for Jaguars.

Here’s more around the AFC:

  • Broncos coach Vic Fangio said it was “possible” that CB Bryce Callahan will miss the rest of the season, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic tweets. Callaham underwent stem cell treatment on his foot last month and the original projection was 4-to-6 weeks.
  • A.J. Green did not practice today for the Bengals and isn’t expected to play against the Rams in London, Ben Baby of ESPN.com tweets. LT Cordy Glenn will also not play in the contest.
  • DE Frank Clark (neck), DT Chris Jones (groin), LB Darron Lee (illness) and CB Kendall Fuller (thumb) all missed practice for the Chiefs today, Herbie Teope of Kansas City.com tweets. Patrick Mahomes is practicing again for the second-straight day.
  • Sam Darnold was limited in practice today, Brian Costello of the New York Post relays (Twitter link). Darnold was a non-participant for the Jets on Wednesday because of a toe ailment.

Latest On Bengals’ A.J. Green

It could be a while before the Bengals get A.J. Green back on the field. The star wide receiver says he still has “a ways to go” before making his return, as Laurel Pfahler of the Dayton Daily News writes. 

[RELATED: Bengals Won’t Trade Green]

If I can go, I can go,” Green said. “If I can’t, I can’t. It’s no big thing. Like I said from Day 1, if I’m healthy enough to play then I’m going to play. Right now, I still have a ways to goThere’s no need to rush this thing. Like I said from Day 1, I’m gonna have to feel good to get back out there to where I can play at a high level to where I know I can. Just don’t want to rush it back like I did with my toe (last year).

Green has yet to play this year and the Bengals have yet to win a game. They’re 0-7 after Sunday’s 27-17 loss to the Jaguars and one can’t help but wonder if they’d at least be in the win column by now if Green was on the field – especially with an opportunity to exploit the Jaguars’ Jalen Ramsey-less defense.

There has been progress for Green, but also new setbacks. Green participated in individual drills ahead of the team’s Week 6 game, but was unable to practice before the Jags’ game. Between this ankle issue and last year’s toe injury, Green has missed eleven straight games.

Green is in his contract year, but the Bengals say he won’t be moved before Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline. Even if the Bengals did want to trade him for draft capital, it’s not clear what they could get for him, given his current condition.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Updates: Green, Mahomes, Newton

It doesn’t look like A.J. Green is going anywhere. Despite Bengals head coach Zac Taylor insisting that the team would not trade its injured star prior to the October 29 deadline, there was still plenty of speculation that Cincinnati would make a deal if it got the right offer. But Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports that Green, who returned to practice on a limited basis earlier this month, will not be ready to play until after the deadline.

Green is progressing nicely in his return, per Schefter, but the Bengals want to ensure a complete recovery before bringing him back, which makes it sound as though they have every intention of re-signing him this offseason (and, as Ben Baby of ESPN.com tweets, it’s an interesting contrast to the dispute between Cincinnati and Cordy Glenn). So if your team is looking for a WR upgrade, you can probably go ahead and scratch Green off your wish list.

Now for two more high-profile injury updates:

  • Ian Rapoport of NFLcom (video link) has positive news on Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes. Per RapSheet, surgery (even in the offseason) has not been discussed, which contradicts a report from several days ago. Rapoport says Mahomes will miss at least the next three games, which means he will be sidelined for matchups against the Packers, Vikings, and Titans. Then, Kansas City travels to Mexico City for a game against the Chargers, and as Matt Miller of Bleacher Report observes, the field surface at Estadio Azteca could be questionable (Twitter link). The Chiefs have a bye after their sojourn across the border, so, in keeping with the earlier reports, it seems like a Week 13 return against the Raiders is the safest bet. Schefter says Mahomes could be back even sooner than the three-week minimum that Rapoport detailed, though that would seem like a very risk move on the Chiefs’ part. Luckily, Herbie Teope of the Kansas City Star tweets that Mahomes’ visit for a second opinion went well, though Teope does not offer a timeline for the star QB’s return.
  • The Panthers are perfectly content for Cam Newton to take as much time as necessary to recover from his foot injury given that the club is 4-0 under backup Kyle Allen. Carolina is on a bye this week, and Newton is expected to return to the practice field in the coming days, but Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says the team has not yet begun to discuss the QB situation, even privately. That means that, as long as Allen keeps performing, he may keep playing, which is consistent with reports from last week. In any event, the Panthers will not address the issue until Newton is back to 100%.