The Bengals want Green in Cincinnati in 2020 no matter what, either through the tag or a longer deal, the sources said.
The tag is estimated to be worth around $18.5 million, according to overthecap.com. The two sides have until July 15 to reach a long-term deal.
Green, who turns 32 in July, has been one of the NFL’s most productive receivers since the Bengals drafted him in 2011. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Green’s 8,907 receiving yards rank fourth since he entered the league. He is second in Cincinnati history in total receptions (602), receiving yards (8,907) and receiving touchdowns (63).
However, he didn’t play in the 2019 season after he tore multiple ligaments in his left ankle during the first practice of the preseason. Since 2016, he has missed 29 games because of injuries and has been out for 23 of Cincinnati’s last 24 games.
Negotiations between the sides regarding a long-term deal eventually stalled toward the end of his four-year, $60 million contract. At the NFL scouting combine last week, Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin said the team still viewed Green in its future for 2020.
“He’s an important guy, and he’s done it the right way,” Tobin said on Tuesday. “We view him as a Bengal and want him around and want him to be part of the future.”
Green could be an asset for a Cincinnati offense that could feature former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow. ESPN’s Mel Kiper currently projects that the Bengals will select the 2019 Heisman winner with the top overall pick in April’s draft. At the scouting combine, Burrow said he wants Green as a passing option if Cincinnati drafts him.
“I think with any rookie quarterback, the more help you can get, the better, and A.J.’s been one of the best players at his position for a very long time,” Burrow said.
If Burrow is drafted by the Bengals, he may still have to wait before he gets to work with Green. In December, Green said he “definitely” would not participate in organized team activities if he was given the franchise tag. Green also said his participation in training camp will be in question because he has to get into football shape.
Green said he understands the business aspect of the situation but can’t jeopardize his long-term future without a multiyear deal.
“The tag is $18 million, so I’m not running away from that,” Green said. “But that also shows that they’re not committed, and in that circumstance, I have to protect myself.”