The Bengals plan to place the franchise tag on wide receiver A.J. Green, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The club wants him back in 2020, either on the tag or under a new multi-year pact.
The move will not make Green too happy, as he has previously indicated that he is opposed to the franchise tag. He conceded he would not engage in a season-long holdout if he and Cincinnati cannot work out a new contract, but he is open to holding out throughout the offseason program and training camp. Given that the Bengals will presumably have rookie QB Joe Burrow under center in 2020, Green’s presence during the spring and summer months will be especially crucial, so look for the team to ramp up negotiations in short order.
Of course, determining fair market value for Green won’t be easy. He will doubtlessly be shooting for the top of the wide receiver market, and his abilities and track record make that a fair ask. But he missed the entire 2019 campaign due to an ankle injury, and he hasn’t suited up for a game since Week 13 of the 2018 season. Plus, he will be 32 before the 2020 regular season gets underway, so player and team may have a hard time finding a middle ground.
The Bengals would not have been a playoff team in 2019 even with a healthy Green, but his presence was sorely missed. Cincinnati’s offense was one of the least efficient units in the league last year, and the club finished near the bottom of the pack in terms of yards per game and points per game.
Green, who made the Pro Bowl in each of his first seven years in the league, has topped 1,000 yards every year in which he has appeared in at least 13 games. He has averaged nearly 15 yards per catch in his career, and he has reach double-digit touchdowns three times. He was, without question, one of the best receivers in the league. The Bengals need to figure out if he still is.
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