The Cincinnati Bengals are still in the process of extending two of their star players, A.J. Green and Joe Mixon.
July 15th is undoubtedly circled in red marker on every calendar in Paul Brown Stadium. It’s the deadline for the Cincinnati Bengals to come to a long term agreement with their star wide receiver and pillar of the franchise, A.J. Green.
As things stand, the former number four overall pick is slated to play the upcoming season, whenever that may be, on the franchise tag. He’s expressed he’d prefer a long term extension, a wish the front office likely hopes to grant.
However, the circumstances surrounding this offseason have caused significant complications to the process of re-working a deal, according to Bengals.com Senior Writer Geoff Hobson,
"“…it seems to me there are just too many unknowns on both sides for a deal to get done… I think they’d love to sign him (Green) long-term. I also think they’d like to see him run a go route before they hand over the guarantee, but the timetables don’t look to be matched up.”"
The league isn’t set to kick off training camps until the end of July, a week or two after the lingering long-term deadline. It seems unlikely that the team will back up the brinks truck for Green, who has struggled with injuries for the past two seasons, without seeing him in person first.
Hobson also brings up the complications that arise with the unknowns of the salary cap. ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported that the pandemic could cause the salary cap to drop between $30-$80M.
If Cincinnati exhausts the roughly $24M in cap space they have remaining this year to extend Green, it could leave them in a position where they have to release other players next season in response to a plunge in the cap ceiling. Not to mention, it could put them in a bind for upcoming impending free agents, such as Joe Mixon.
At this point, it looks highly likely Green will play out the 2020 campaign on the franchise tag. Of course, anything is possible until July 15th has passed, but the unknowns make a long-term deal difficult to pull off.
Joe Mixon extension status
The trend of high-caliber running backs holding out continues, likely drawing the attention of the Bengals organization. Most recently, it’s been Viking’s star back Dalvin Cook opting to work an extension rather than opposing linebackers.
There’s been no indication Mixon will follow the footsteps of his fellow 2017 draftee, but the situation should put the front office on high alert, at the very least.
The circumstances surrounding Mixon are less complicated than those of Green, but they’re still complex, nonetheless. The biggest difference between the two scenarios is the timeline. The club will have the ability to work with Mixon and his representatives on an extension right up to the dawn of the upcoming season.
Mixon has been the heart and soul of the team, overcoming a floundering offensive line to eclipse 1,000 yards rushing the past two seasons. He’s a player the Bengals clearly value, despite the declining appreciation of his position around the league.
"“Mark me down for a Mixon extension to be announced on Labor Day.”"
At this point, the most likely outcome appears to involve the franchise extending Mixon, signing their draft picks, and keeping Green on the franchise tag. In doing so, Cincinnati buys themselves flexibility in the face of uncertainty, locks up one of their best offensive players, and gets a chance to see how Green returns from injury.