The Cincinnati Bengals want to keep A.J. Green long-term, but as he enters his contract year these five teams should consider trading for him.
As the top of the market at his position changes, from Odell Beckham to Antonio Brown to possibly Julio Jones shortly, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green is surely watching closely. The seven-time Pro Bowler is set to make $11.97 million in 2019, the final year of his contract.
Green is coming off an injury-shortened 2018 campaign, as he was limited to nine games by a toe injury. He was pretty productive though, with 46 receptions for 694 yards (15.1 yards per catch) and six touchdowns, so he seems to have plenty left in the tank approaching 31 years old.
The Bengals appear ready to get Green signed long-term, but it’s easy to see a notably stingy organization failing to meet market value.
As Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio noted, Green’s $15.176 million cap hit for this year sets the value of the franchise tender for him, which would be $18.21 million for 2020. So the sum of his 2019 and 2020 salaries, $30.186 million, would be the expectation for fully guaranteed money at signing on a multi-year deal right now. A second franchise tender in 2021 would sit at $21.852 million for Green, pushing a reasonable expectation for fully guaranteed money to just over $40 million if a deal is done in 2020.
So Green and his agent could hold the line, with the intent to move on after nine seasons in Cincinnati if contract negotiations don’t get anywhere. Knowing how owner Mike Brown operates could compel teams with a greater expectations to win in 2019 to make a trade offer this offseason, and perhaps make an offer which simply can’t be refused.
Green doesn’t seem like the type to demand a trade behind the scenes. But these five teams should at least be thinking about making a deal for one of the most productive wide receivers around (80.2 yards per game, sixth in NFL history).
5. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts entered free agency with the most cap space in the league, and with the dust settled on the initial waves of free agency they still have over $61 million available (via Over The Cap). General manager Chris Ballard has authored a measured approach, with only rumors of convenience based on their salary cap situation seriously attaching Indianapolis to trading for Antonio Brown or signing Le’Veon Bell.
At one point Ballard hinted at not wanting to invite disruption into the Colts’ locker room, which was clearly a signal (and not a smokescreen) that moves for Brown and Bell were never really considered.
Green does not bring that same outward drama with him, seemingly preferring to be a good player without the extra desire for attention. The Colts have signed Devin Funchess and could turn to the middle rounds of the draft for more receiver depth, but the idea of pairing Green with T.Y. Hilton should intrigue them.