Should The Cincinnati Bengals Shelf A.J. Green for the Season?

Cincinnati Bengals, A.J. Green(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Cincinnati Bengals, A.J. Green(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

With the news that A.J. Green won’t suit up against the Rams in London on Sunday, it begs the question; Should we see Green at all this season? 

When A.J. Green injured his ankle in the first practice of training camp, the city of Cincinnati collectively held its breath. They did not want to see their star wide receiver face yet another injury riddled season. Fans let out a gasp of relief as further evaluation came in. Green would avoid the injured reserve list, meaning that a return before week 8 was possible and he could even return sooner.

Yet, as the Cincinnati Bengals head to London for Week 8, they do so knowing that they will once again be without their best player

On the surface, the team should be eager to get Green back on the playing field as soon as possible. Perhaps he could alleviate some of the offensive problems, lure a few extra fans into Paul Brown Stadium once they return to Cincinnati, and get first year head coach Zac Taylor his ever elusive first victory.

However, if the organization is thinking long term, the Bengals would be wise to keep Green on the sidelines for the rest of the season.

A lot of trade talk has been circulating with the deadline approaching and Green has been at the center of most of it. When asked about it, Taylor has repeatedly said Green won’t be dealt, a sentiment likely shared by the front office.

Perhaps that is a wise decision with a new quarterback possibly on the horizon for the team. The former Georgia Bulldog would be a great mentor and safety valve for any signal caller trying to make his way into the league. Look at what Larry Fitzgerald has done for Kyler Murray in Arizona.

Green is in the last year of his deal, but both sides have given every indication that something will get done. Thus, if the above line of thinking is indeed one of the main reasons Mike Brown and the front office have elected to not trade Green, they need to make sure he is ready to go for training camp next year.

There is no reason to risk re-aggravating his injured ankle. Even if his ankle is fully healed, number 18 is currently 31 years old, but considering the time he has missed from injury and the extra recovery he would get from sitting the rest of the season out, he would, in theory, have the mileage of a receiver who is much younger.

Beyond that, the Bengals have been in some tightly contested games this season. If Green returns, there is a chance he flips some would-be losses into victories. Winning is always the goal, especially for a team that hasn’t done so yet. Still, that could start to bump the Bengals back in the draft order and jeopardize their freedom to have their pick of top quarterbacks in next year’s draft, should they desire nabbing one,

Regardless of how badly fans want to see Green in action this season, there is one golden rule in the NFL. Finding a franchise quarterback is the most important piece to the puzzle of turning a franchise around. Nothing should interfere with Cincinnati’s chances of getting the cornerstone quarterback they have desperately been searching for.

It’s understandable why fans, the Bengals organization, and A.J. Green himself wouldn’t want to mark this season as a total loss. Green has undoubtedly put in a tremendous amount of work to play this season. Mike Brown and company want to pull fans back into Paul Brown Stadium. Taylor wants his players to buy in to what he is trying to do. All of this is short sided though.

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By waiting until next season, Green can hopefully remain a Bengal, return better than ever and hope to enjoy an injury free campaign. Moreover, the seven time Pro Bowler might get a chance to start fresh with a young quarterback. This version of A.J Green will put Taylor in a much better position to win. With that, the players will begin to better buy into his culture.