A.J. Green

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).

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Bengals’ A.J. Green On Franchise Tag

Bengals star A.J. Green has ostensibly been pushing to play, but even he admits that a 2019 return is unlikely. This week, Green told the team website that he’s probably not going to suit up in the final two games, wiping out the entirety of his ninth NFL season. 

With Green’s season over before it could even start, the focus shifts to 2020 and his pending free agency. Green, understandably, would prefer an extension to the franchise tag, but he says a one-year cuff won’t prompt a season-long holdout.

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.”

But even if he doesn’t hold out for the entire season, Green is more than prepared to stay away from the team throughout the offseason program and training camp if he does not get a long-term deal, as Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic writes. Dehner also reports that a source close to Green says, despite what Green has indicated to the public, the wideout never intended to play after suffering his foot injury in training camp.

Dehner believes the Bengals will in fact put the franchise tag on Green, and in order to avoid an unpleasant distraction throughout the spring and summer of 2020, when they will presumably be focusing on the development of a rookie QB, he thinks they should set a deadline prior to the opening of free agency in March to either trade or extend their star wideout. Of course, determining his value could be difficult given his recent injury history and the fact that he won’t have played a game since Week 13 of the 2018 season, but such a deadline could be

Green knows he could wind up elsewhere, but he says his goal remains to “break every receiving record” in Cincinnati. Green already has the most 100-yard games (33) in franchise history, but he’s aiming to top Chad Johnson’s career records of most yards (10,784), catches (752) and touchdowns (70).

To date, Green has 602 catches for 8,907 yards and 63 touchdowns, all with the Bengals.

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Bengals To Use Franchise Tag On A.J. Green?

A.J. Green‘s mid-career off year is two games away from becoming a reality, and the 31-year-old wide receiver is on the verge of free agency for the first time. But the Bengals may not be willing to let him hit the market.

The Bengals and Green are far apart in contract negotiations, Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports, adding that the team plans to use the franchise tag on the seven-time Pro Bowler if this value gulf persists into March. The franchise tag window opens Feb. 25 and closes March 10.

Earlier this season, Green voiced opposition to a tag scenario. The 2020 wide receiver market does not feature a host of high-profile names. Green would seemingly be in position to cash in, despite his health issues in recent years. The parties were not close on an extension before Green’s summer ankle injury, though the ninth-year veteran did say he wanted another long-term contract that would allow him to finish his career in Cincinnati.

Should the Bengals tag Green, it would be expected to cost just more than $18MM, Joel Corry of CBS Sports projects. That would be quite the obligation for a team that’s seen its top skill-position weapon miss much of the past two seasons. Green is in the final weeks of a four-year, $60MM extension agreed to back in 2015. Should Green miss the full 2019 season, he will have been sidelined for 23 of Cincinnati’s past 24 games.

Still, Green has proven to be one of the best players in franchise history when healthy. He is the only wideout in NFL history to make the Pro Bowl in his first seven seasons. Green’s most recent full season, 2017, ended with 75 receptions for 1,078 yards and eight touchdowns.

Mike Brown discussed a Green extension earlier this year, before the season-altering injury, adding that a health setback would affect the receiver’s market. With that reality forming, this could be an interesting impasse — one that will affect the 2020 free agent class.

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Bengals’ A.J. Green Pushing To Play?

5:52pm: Green was in Green Bay today to visit with foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). As Schefter notes, that development certainly makes it sound as if Green will not suit up for either of the Bengals’ remaining two games.

09:33am: The Bengals haven’t ruled out playing A.J. Green before the season is through, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. The veteran has looked good in practice and wants to play, so it’s possible that he could make his belated 2019 debut in Week 16 or 17.

Green hasn’t played a single snap this season after suffering ankle damage during training camp. The Bengals opted against putting him on injured reserve to start the year, which would have mandated an absence of at least eight games. Without Green, the Bengals have gone 1-13.

The Bengals are reportedly not close to an extension with Green, so this could be his last opportunity to suit up in orange. In theory, the Bengals could keep him with the franchise tag, but the former first-round pick has been adamantly opposed to that.

“I don’t really care about (the contract negotiations),” Green said earlier this year. “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.

The Bengals will finish out the year with games against the Dolphins and Browns.

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AFC Notes: Colts, Pats, Bills, Adams, Green

Adam Vinatieri landed on the Colts‘ injury report Wednesday, and NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero notes the 24th-year kicker went through an MRI after practice (Twitter link). Despite the scrutiny that’s come due to his poor performance, Vinatieri has kicked in every Colts game this season. But doubt exists about his Sunday status, leading Indianapolis to claim ex-Charger and 49er Chase McLaughlin. Vinatieri is planning to meet with Colts brass Thursday about the next course of action, per Pelissero. Considering his performance and teams not traditionally big on carrying two kickers, it seems IR could be a possibility for the NFL’s all-time scoring kingpin.

Midway through the Week 14 lead-up, let’s take a look at the latest coming out of the AFC. Additional kicker uncertainty exists within this conference.

  • Both the Bills and Patriots attempted to claim McLaughlin, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. New England is without a kicker presently and has used four this season. Kai Forbath replaced Nick Folk, with the latter undergoing an emergency appendectomy, but the Pats cut the former this week. Folk would seem the likely option, but the Pats were prepared to make McLaughlin their fifth 2019 kicker. The Bills made McLaughlin a priority UDFA signing in May but waived him after the preseason. Stephen Hauschka has missed four field goals over the past six Bills games.
  • T.Y. Hilton acknowledged the possibility he will not play again this season. The Colts‘ top skill-position talent re-injured his calf last week and missed Week 13. He did not practice Wednesday. “I’m doing everything I can to get back out there,” Hilton said, via Kevin Bowen of 107.5 The Fan. “If I can, I can. If I can’t, then I’m going to have to shut it down, but I’m doing everything I can (to return).” Hilton has missed five games this season; the Colts are 1-4 in those contests.
  • Jamal Adams will likely miss the Jets‘ Week 14 game, per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. The Pro Bowl safety suffered a sprained ankle in Gang Green’s loss in Cincinnati. Adams has not missed a game as a pro.
  • The A.J. Green refrain continues. Zac Taylor said Wednesday he does not expect the Pro Bowl wideout will not return for Week 14. The Bengals have played the entire season without Green, a 2020 free agent-to-be. Given a recent positive progress report, the 31-year-old receiver remains out. A full redshirt season may spook some potential suitors in free agency, but Green returning to a 1-11 Bengals team and suffering another setback would probably affect his market more.

Extra Points: Rivera, Hodges, Giants, Green

The Panthers suffered an absolutely brutal loss Sunday, losing at home to the Redskins as massive favorites. Carolina is effectively eliminated from the playoff hunt, and Ron Rivera’s seat is starting to heat up. The ugly loss was “likely more than enough to prompt new owner David Tepper to make big changes in January,” writes Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Rivera was rumored to be close to getting fired after last year, but his staff was given one more season to prove themselves. Tepper only bought the team before last season, so he doesn’t have any particularly deep ties to the coach who guided them to a Super Bowl a handful of years ago.

It might not help or matter much, but the circumstances have been far from ideal for Rivera in 2019. Cam Newton was never healthy and barely played, and he’s had second-year UDFA Kyle Allen under center for most of the year. The Panthers went on a hot streak after Allen was inserted, but have since completely collapsed. For his part, Rivera insisted after the game he wasn’t worrying about his job status per Bill Voth of the team’s official site (Twitter link), although there’s not really much else he can say at this point. Assuming he gets fired it’ll be interesting to see what kind of interest he gets on the market, considering he’s had real success in the past. Notably, offensive coordinator and former NFL head coach Norv Turner would surely become available as well if Rivera is let go.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Steelers benched Mason Rudolph and are rolling with Devlin Hodges at quarterback, and they picked up a crucial win over the Browns on Sunday. Mike Tomlin’s decision to go with Hodges was “was well received throughout the organization,” La Canfora writes in a separate piece. JLC also adds that some people in the building were surprised Tomlin didn’t initially stick with Hodges after he won a game over the Chargers while Rudolph was sidelined with a concussion. He notes that the staff loves Hodges’ scrambling ability, and that he’s been compared to Gardner Minshew by some in the organization. Pittsburgh is apparently pretty high on Hodges and barring injury, it doesn’t sound like we’ll see Rudolph again any time soon.
  • Speaking of embattled coaching staffs, the Giants’ is up against it right now. Rumors of a potential Pat Shurmur firing continue to percolate, and the Giants got routed by the Packers on Sunday as pictures of a mostly empty stadium went viral online. The staff has yet another problem on their hands now, as cornerback Janoris Jenkins publicly blasted the way he’s being used after the game.”You’ve got to use your weapons. I’m the only one in the league that doesn’t travel (w/the opponents top WR). I don’t understand why,” Jenkins said via Ralph Vacchiano of SNY (Twitter links). “It’s common sense. I’m on the left side of the field all game. I get two passes thrown my way. All the top corners in the league travel. Rabbit doesn’t travel anymore.” Jenkins is apparently clashing with defensive coordinator James Bettcher. Jackrabbit has one year left on his five-year, $62.5 MM deal after this one. He could be cut following this season for only around a $3.5MM penalty, but he’s still by far the best player in their secondary.
  • Some slight positive news to pass along in the continuing A.J. Green watch, as the Bengals receiver said “everything’s trending up” with his troublesome ankle, per Ben Baby of ESPN.com. The talented wideout still didn’t give any concrete timetable for a return, saying “when my ankle feels good enough to play, then I’ll play.” Green returned to practice a few weeks ago and appeared to be returning imminently, but then suffered a setback. Even without their top offensive option, Cincy managed to pick up their first win of the season Sunday.

 

AFC North Rumors: Garrett, Glenn, Steelers

While different accounts have surfaced about how the brawl started, the NFL has issued final rulings on the central cogs in the Browns-Steelers melee. One interesting fallout item: Myles Garrett‘s appeal being denied will leave him on his own for a while. The Browns are not permitted to communicate with the star defensive end during his suspension, Freddie Kitchens confirmed (via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, on Twitter). This sort of banishment is usually associated with players battling bans for off-field conduct, but Garrett’s case is certainly unique. This could prove interesting if the Browns make Kitchens a one-and-done coach. Garrett would not be permitted to discuss a new scheme with the team. With NFL appeals officer James Thrash denying the former No. 1 overall pick’s case at avoiding an indefinite suspension, Garrett must apply for reinstatement in the 2020 offseason.

Here is the latest from the AFC North:

  • Cordy Glenn will not only make his 2019 debut Sunday, but the Bengals are preparing to slot the eighth-year back in as their left tackle starter, Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer notes. This will be a pivotal stretch for Glenn, who battled a concussion for several weeks before a contentious period with the Bengals resulted in the 30-year-old lineman’s one-game suspension. The Bengals were ready to shift Glenn to left guard, making room for first-rounder Jonah Williams, but the latter’s offseason injury nixed that. Glenn, who will replace John Jerry at left tackle, has no guaranteed money left on his deal. The Bills extension he signed in 2016 runs through 2020, but the Bengals could save $9.25MM by releasing him next year.
  • A.J. Green will not join Glenn in uniform against the Steelers. The ninth-year wideout will miss his 11th game of the season and 15th straight. Green is looking at a missed season and is set to profile as one of the more interesting free agents in recent years. The 31-year-old receiver has not practice since Nov. 4.
  • The Steelers have officially ruled out JuJu Smith-Schuster out for Week 12, but the team did see quick progress from fellow wideout starter Diontae Johnson. The rookie cleared concussion protocol and is not listed on Pittsburgh’s injury report. He and James Washington will go into Cincinnati as Mason Rudolph‘s top targets.
  • Admitting the team gambled by not taking Lamar Jackson with its first 2018 draft pick, Ravens GM Eric DeCosta discussed the process that led them to draft the MVP candidate at No. 32 overall last year.

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.

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