A.J. Green sounds unsure about his future with Bengals as he heads into final year of contract
The Bengals star receiver doesn't sound sure if he'll be returning to Cincinnati after the 2019 season
When you have one of the NFL's best receivers on your team, there's almost always some drama that comes with it, and sometimes, that drama gets ugly. Just ask the Steelers, Giants and Falcons about that.
One team that hasn't really had to deal with any receiver drama, despite having one of the most talented players in the league, would be the Cincinnati Bengals. With the fourth-overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Bengals selected A.J. Green, and ever since then, all he's done is put up huge numbers.
Over the past eight years, Green has quietly been one of the best receivers in the NFL. In an era where receivers like Odell Beckham, Julio Jones and Antonio Brown make their contract demands very public, Green has been the opposite, which is why it seemed slightly out of character this week when the Bengals receiver gave a vague answer when he was asked about his future in Cincinnati during an appearance on Adam Schefter's podcast.
"I don't know. We'll see," Green said. "I love the Bengals, I'd love to be a part of the organization for the rest of my career, but you never know. I just take each year at a time and go out there and play, get healthy, and go from there."
Green is headed into the final season of a four-year, $60 million extension that he signed back in September 2015. If the two sides don't work out an extension, that means Green would be a free agent after the season, unless the Bengals hit him with the franchise tag.
So could Green actually envision himself leaving the team at the end of the season?
"It's hard," Green said. "This is a place -- I've been for the last eight years, going on nine years now -- so it's hard for me to see myself somewhere else, because I have a family and all that here, but you just never know, and like I said, I can't control that. Something may get done, something may not get done."
At the NFL's annual league meeting back in March, Bengals owner Mike Brown insisted that his team would get a deal done with Green, but obviously that hasn't happened yet. Brown loves a good deal, but Green likely isn't going to give the Bengals any sort of discount and that's because he still feels that he's in his prime.
The Bengals receiver said he'll probably play through the 2024 season before he even considers retirement.
"I got six or seven more great years ahead of me and then we'll go from there," Green said. "My ultimate goal is to win a Super Bowl and then after a Super Bowl is to be in the Hall of Fame."
Going into contract negotiations, one concern the Bengals might have with Green is his health. The wide receiver has missed 13 games over the past three seasons, including last year, when he missed seven games due to a toe injury. Greenand says he's now good to go.
"I feel great, I'm back running routes," Green said. "Everything's back to normal. I had surgery, it was a small surgery to replace the ligament, one little ligament under my toe. It's good now. It feels great... I should be cleared like next month, but definitely be ready for training camp."
If Green does end up staying in Cincinnati, Bengals fans might want to thank Andy Dalton, who happens to be one of Green's closest friends on the team.
"It's unbelievable. It's not just football," Green said of his relationship with Dalton. "Our wives work out together. Our kids are in the same class. It's far more than football with Andy and I, and I think that's what makes us so great on the field. Andy's a great quarterback. He gets a lot of flack. I think it's just the position in general. He's a great quarterback. We put the pieces around him and everyone does their job, I think we can go very far."
Green and Dalton clearly have a tight relationship, and it's not crazy to think that Green's uncertainty about his future in Cincinnati partly stems from the fact that there's no guarantee that Dalton will be the Bengals quarterback after the 2019 season.
The Bengals have been undergoing a lot of change this season, and if there's one thing that Green likes about the change, it's the fact that they went from a defensive-minded head coach to an offensive-minded one in Zac Taylor.
"I think the biggest thing for us is just having your head coach installing all the plays," Green said during a recent interview with Bill Reiter on CBS Sports radio. "It's having him drawing up all the routes on the board and walking through the routes with the receivers and telling them what he wants and what he looks for in his routes. It's a little different having the head coach being the guy explaining everything to you."
With Taylor running the show, Green is expecting the Bengals to have a high-flying offense in 2019.
"I think it's going to be a lot of down-the-field shots and big plays and a lot of point-scoring," Green said. "I think it's going to fit me very well because my game is a lot of down-the-field stuff, big chunk plays down the field. So I'm very excited."
The Bengals are going to find out pretty quickly if their new-look offense is any good, and that's because they'll be opening on the road against a Seahawks team that has never lost a home opener under Pete Carroll.
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