The Bengals’ 2016 second-round draft pick emerged last year when he caught 76 passes for 1,028 yards and seven touchdowns. His contract was set to expire after this season, his fourth in the NFL after a standout career at the University of Pittsburgh.
“It’s a good thing for the team,” Bengals owner Mike Brown said Tuesday during a pre-training camp media luncheon when asked about why it is important to lock up a player like Boyd. “He’s a fine player, and he’s proven it. We try to extend the guys that matter, and we see him as a player who is a difference-maker. He is a solid guy, he competes, he makes big players, he doesn’t scare — he has the ingredients we look for in a wideout, a guy who plays his position, and I’m glad we have him.”
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Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin said the decision to extend Boyd has no impact on whether the team will be able to do the same for Green, who also is entering a contract season. Green is set to make a base salary of $12 million this year.
Green was the Bengals first pick in the 2011 draft and ended the 2018 season on injured reserve because of toe surgery, but is expected to be full-go for training camp.
“(They are) two separate things, both good players,” Tobin said. “We would like to retain both of them, and we will work to do that and see what we can get done as we go here. But obviously, Tyler has earned it. He’s come on and become a big part of our offense. He’s a young player and still has upside, so we are excited to have him back for the long-term. … It’s not an either/or. It’s a both, and we’ll see where we can go with the other (Green).”
Tobin said the Bengals aren’t just focused on getting a deal done with Green, but “obviously A.J. is the biggest name and will be the biggest piece and hopefully something can come together.”
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Green will turn 31 next week, but Brown said his age isn’t a concern when considering his future with the team.
“A.J. is great player,” Brown said. “One thing I’ve learned is great players have a tendency to keep on longer. They just have more in the tank, and I think that applies to A.J. Yes, he’s going to be in his 30s, and we can all count. We know eventually things end, but I don’t think it’s now for him.”
Tobin shared that line of thinking, saying that Green is physically gifted enough, he expects the seven-time Pro Bowler to be playing at a high level for a long time.
Green is such an elite talent it’s difficult to pick out one skill that stands out above the rest.
“He’s got such incredible body control and body awareness that it would be hard to say one is better than that,” Green said. “With his hand-eye coordination, his quickness, his understanding of how to run routes, sideline awareness, his ability to get his feet down, his consistency when he’s healthy to be out there and perform game after game, toughness, competitiveness — he’s got pretty much everything we’re looking for.”
Green has said he would like to finish his career with the Bengals, and the team seems interested in making that happen. With Boyd, it might have been more important to get a deal done before the season so it wouldn’t be a distraction on the young player, especially as he seeks to build on such a strong third season.
Head coach Zac Taylor said it’s a benefit to Boyd that he enters training camp without that hanging over him.
“Tyler has earned it,” Taylor said. “He’s a young, up-and-coming receiver in this league, and he’s had great production over the years. I’m very excited for him, but the real work starts now. It gets that off his shoulders so he can focus on ball, but Tyler is a guy who’s a great separator, he’s got great hands, great attention to detail, very personable, all the traits we’re looking for in our receivers.”
Boyd made it no secret he wanted to stay in Cincinnati but didn’t hold out from offseason training sessions like some players in his situation might. He’s had the right attitude all along. Last year, he expressed that he didn’t mind being a No. 2 behind Green and didn’t need to be a No. 1 wideout.
Teams treated him like one at times even when Green was on the field, and the Bengals liked having such a good complement to Green.
“Ultimately, it’s the dollars that talk,” Tobin said. “It’s nice when you are not the only good receiver on a football team, it helps you. Tyler has been great in that he’s really versatile for us, and he can play a number of different positions. They are different style guys for our game, and they complement each other well so whether he’s No. 1 or No. 2 or whatever, he’s a good football player and he’s been rewarded for that.”