The Cincinnati Bengals are coming off a highly disappointing 2019 season that saw them fall well short of reaching the playoffs. It has seen much of their team in flux heading into the offseason. A part of that is the upcoming free agency for Pro Bowl wide receiver AJ Green, who could potentially hit the open market for the first time in his career. Green has been a mainstay for the Bengals, but there isn’t a new contract in place with the star wideout ahead of the 2020 season. With that in mind, the Bengals have made it clear what they plan to do with the situation.
AJ Green’s contract status
Through his first nine seasons with the Bengals, Green has established himself as one of the top wide receivers in the league.
He holds numerous Bengals’ all-time records along with seven Pro Bowl selections along the way. However, Green has been hampered by injuries over the last two years, which a foot injury forced him to miss the entire 2019 campaign.
The 31-year-old is now on track to head into free agency this offseason as his four-year, $60 million deal with the team has expired. There hasn’t been any traction towards a new contract, which has many wondering what course of action the Bengals will take with their longtime star wideout.
Cincinnati has a couple of plans of action ahead of them that they can go, but there hasn’t been any indication about what direction they are leaning. However, there may finally be some clarity on that front ahead of free agency.
What the Bengals will do with AJ Green
Before the Bengals can decide what they plan to do with the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft, there remain some prominent questions in free agency.
Their top priority will be handling Green’s contract situation as he sits without a new deal this offseason. With that in mind, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN is reporting that Cincinnati is in the position to place the franchise tag on him if there no long-term deal in place.
It’s a clear indication that Green is in the team’s long-term plans with their rebuild. The decision to bring him back even if it’s on an $18 million franchise tag is a no-brainer for the franchise. It also gives them an extended window through mid-July to work out a multi-year deal with him.
That also provides expected No. 1 overall pick, Joe Burrow, with a proven passing game weapon to utilize and lean on in 2020. All of this seemingly falls in line with the expected route for the Bengals with Green.
How AJ Green feels about the franchise tag
It’s no secret that Green has made it clear that he doesn’t want to go the route of the franchise tag with the Bengals.
In his eyes, it’s a lack of a long-term commitment from the franchise, which is something that he reiterated back January.
“The franchise tag is not the best thing, but like I said, I’m not turning down $18 million. It happens. When you run a business you are going to have to make difficult decisions. Like I said, when you put that on me, that’s what you’re showing: You only want me for one year. I always play with a chip on shoulder and we will see what happens. I love the Cincinnati, I love the team, and I always want to be here my whole career.”
These comments only further emphasize his desire to remain with Cincinnati and places the ball firmly in the team’s court to get a long-term deal done to keep Green there for years to come.