A.J. Green was hoping the Cincinnati Bengals wouldn’t use a franchise tag on him, but the veteran wide receiver was still expecting it.
The Bengals are putting a lock on him for the year, and the clock on negotiations for a long-term deal has begun.
Cincinnati announced Monday it placed the franchise tag on Green, ahead of an 11:59 a.m. deadline to do so, and Green will now make a guaranteed $18 million in 2020. Green and the Bengals have until July 15 to come to an agreement on a multi-year contract.
The Bengals also announced Monday they extended tender offers to tight end Cethan Carter, guard Alex Redmond, defensive tackle Josh Tupou and safety Brandon Wilson. They now become restricted free agents and are still able to negotiate with other teams, but the Bengals are given the chance to match offers. Free agency begins at 4 p.m. Wednesday, but the Bengals avoid that with Green by designating him as a franchise player.
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“For me, it would be an insult,” Green said during an interview with the Dayton Daily News and other local reporters on Oct. 30. “It’s my second deal so I’m getting older. That is one year older. No, I’m not into a one-year. Give me a long term or just let me go. I don’t understand the franchise (tag). I just feel like the franchise should be eliminated if you are five years in. You can’t franchise veterans because you are 30-31. (If) they franchise you that is an extra year or two of people not going to give you a long-term deal. I don’t like it. I hate the franchise tag.”
At that point, Green was still trying to get back on the field.
As it became clear he wasn’t going to play in 2019 because of an ankle injury suffered on the first day of training camp, Green acknowledged he would understand if the Bengals used a franchise tag on him. Green hasn’t played a game since December 2018 when that season was cut short by a toe injury. His ankle injury occurred at the end of July as he was just beginning full participation.
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The Bengals weren’t going to want to give him a long-term deal without first seeing if he is healthy.
“Of course, I understand,” Green said in December. “It’s $18 million. I’m not sitting out a year. My wife would kill me for that. I wouldn’t sit out, but you have to understand that the franchise tag means you’re not committed to the long term so the offseason workouts, training camp, stuff like that would be questionable.”
The seven-time Pro Bowler said he would not participate in OTAs or other offseason workouts if not on a long-term deal, but he probably would be back on the field by training camp because he still would need to get into “football shape” to be ready for the start of the season.
The potential of having a new quarterback to get used to – if the Bengals move on from Andy Dalton as expected — wouldn’t change Green’s thoughts on offseason workouts, he said.
“It’s a business,” Green said. “I understand the business part of this. I understand if they franchise tag me, I can’t put myself in that situation to be there.”
The Bengals have been clear all along they wanted to keep Green on the roster.
“We want him to be a part of Cincinnati,” Taylor said last month at the NFL Combine. “He’s got a great history with the organization. He’s been a great member of the community, a great leader on our team. Even facing the adversity he faced the last year and a half, he’s been around in all the meetings. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know A.J. I look forward to coaching A.J. really for the first time going into next season.”
Green, who turns 32 in July, doesn’t believe his production will be any different than in the past just because of his recent injuries.
“I don’t have to prove anything to nobody,” Green said in December. “… I know my worth and what I bring to this team and I know my skill set.”
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