Despite not agreeing to an extension before the deadline to do so for franchise-tagged players, A.J. Green has the same mentality heading into the 2020 season with the Cincinnati Bengals as he has all offseason. Green planned to sign his franchise tender from the beginning, but he and the Bengals failed to reach a long-term extension.
Green believes the new contract will come in time.
"I've got the same mindset. I want to play another four years and I hope to retire as a Bengal," Green said, via the Bengals website. "There were never harsh words. I understand there's a business side of it. For me, I just want to play football."
Green believes if it wasn't for the coronavirus pandemic, he and the Bengals would have gotten a deal done. Green missed the entire 2019 season with an ankle injury, one year after playing just nine games due to a right toe injury. He played just 10 games in 2016 due to a right hamstring tear. Signing Green to a long-term deal just didn't seem feasible for the Bengals at the time.
"The franchise tag is not the best thing," Green said back in January. "But like I said, I'm not turning down $18 million."
Drafted fourth overall in the 2011 NFL Draft, Green has 602 catches for 8,907 yards and 63 touchdowns in his career, averaging 14.8 yards per catch. Green has six 1,000-yard seasons and has made the Pro Bowl seven times.
Green has pledged his loyalty toward Cincinnati before, another reason why he and the Bengals will likely reach an extension after the season if everything goes right.
"That's just not who I am. I'm loyal to the person who gave me my shot," Green said last October. "I want the team records. I want more Pro Bowls. I want all that. So when I leave there is going to be a standard. I still want the yardage, I still want the touchdowns."
Green will make $18.171 million in 2020, making him the second-highest paid wideout in the game this year. He'll also be reporting to camp on time, a move the Bengals are very excited about -- especially with a rookie quarterback in Joe Burrow getting acclimated to the offense.
"A.J. is one of the best receivers in the NFL," said Bengals head coach Zac Taylor earlier this week. "He's an important part of our plans, and we're thrilled to have him in the fold from Day 1. We're looking forward to the impact of his talent and leadership on our offense this season."