Many are approaching the Cincinnati Bengals contract negotiations with A.J. Green as a black and white numbers game. However, much more is at stake in negotiations with the star wide-out.
Zac Taylor made it clear at the scouting combine this week that he was confident A.J. Green would be a Cincinnati Bengal come September. However, as many fans are aware, whether he’s apart of the team for the foreseeable future or on a single year franchise tag remains to be seen.
The former Bulldog standout has made it clear on multiple occasions that he would much rather play under a long term deal than the one year, $18 million agreement.
On the surface, it seems the only thing at stake is Green’s preferences and the Bengal’s look to be in control of the situation. Either way negotiations go, the team can still guarantee Green is in stripes next season. Unfortunately, things aren’t that black and white.
The Bengal’s have to make the marriage work with Green because if they don’t, it begs the question, will the organization ever be capable of keeping a player of Green’s caliber in Cincinnati for their entire career?
The Georgia native fits everything the Bengal’s want in a player. His off-field work, leadership in the locker room, commitment to the franchise, and upper-echelon talent make him the very definition of the kind of person Bengal’s ownership preaches they want to build around. If they can’t ensure Green retires a Bengal, the argument could be made that no player could ever complete the storybook career many dream of having.
After dropping the ball with Andrew Whitworth, the bookend tackle and one of the best leaders in Bengal’s history, the team had to of taken a hit in the minds of players across the league. If a similar scenario plays out with Green, it could be too much for the front office to recover from.
The Whitworth disaster, the lack of a ring of honor, the likelihood of trading Andy Dalton, and the negative comments from past players mean the Bengals need to send a message. One that says “if you come here, if you’re loyal, if you play at the level we expect, we’ll embrace you and make you a Bengal for life.” They have the opportunity to do that with Green. Now, they have to capitalize on it no matter the price tag, for the sake of their perception.