A.J. Green: Big Money Contract Looming
Aug 14, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (18) against the New York Giants in a preseason NFL football game at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 23-10. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Just about a month and a half ago, I urged the Bengals to sign A.J. Green before Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas earned long-term deals. And today, just a day after Julio Jones signed a five year, $71.25 million megadeal, I wish the Bengals would have listened to my advice. With Jones’ new contract, A.J. Green is happy–because he knows he’s about to make a ton of money.
Aug 29, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (18) makes a catch prior to the game against the Chicago Bears in a preseason NFL football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Before Julio Jones, T.Y. Hilton, Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant signed their contracts, the only top-tier, big money contracts were those of Calvin Johnson, Mike Wallace and Jeremy Maclin–the market wasn’t set for players of Green’s caliber. Dez’ contract soon set the wide receiver market, with Demaryius Thomas signing a deal that was essentially the same deal with Dez’ deal, T.Y. Hilton signing a five year, $65 million contract and Julio signing a richer contract than any of the three aforementioned players.
The Bengals certainly value A.J. Green, but Cincinnati’s owner, Mike Brown, is one of the league’s harshest when it comes to spending money. Although the Bengals signed Andy Dalton to a deal that looked like a monster deal at first glance, it is actually a relatively team-friendly deal. Geno Atkins and Vontaze Burfict both earned big deals, but they took time; the Bengals organization will still be hesitant to pay Green.
A deal could get done soon, but I don’t see Green making as much money as Julio Jones. And considering that Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas both had the best seasons of their respective careers, while Green is coming off a season where he struggled to stay healthy, the Bengals will likely use Green’s durability issues against him in negotiations.
And with nine starters, as well as some role players who could earn starting roles this season, set to hit free agency at the end of this season, Cincinnati will certainly be stubborn when it comes to negotiating with Green. A contract could get done as early as in the next few days, but negotiations could also stall. And if he chooses to, Green could wait for a long time; he’s likely going to try to use Julio Jones’ deal to his advantage in negotiations. And if he puts up big numbers this season while staying healthy, he could make even more if the Bengals wait until months from now to sign him.
Green is one of the NFL’s best receivers and needs to get locked up immediately. However, Cincinnati should also be weary of paying him too much money; the Bengals have the upper hand in the negotiations after Green’s down year in 2014.
This contract negotiation could go smoothly, or it could be an absolute disaster. Green could get signed tomorrow or a year from now; we’ll just have to see what happens.