Thu, 02 Apr 2020

Bengals WR Green is team's top priority

Field Level Media
26 Feb 2020, 05:55 GMT+10

INDIANAPOLIS -- The offseason to-do list in Cincinnati has one name at the very top: A.J. Green.

Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said the return of the team's top wide receiver is of chief importance to an overhaul that will also include a new franchise quarterback.

"Very confident," Taylor said Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine when asked to rate his level of confidence Green would be in Cincinnati next season. "Still working through the progress with A.J., but very confident he will be a Bengal in September."

Green, who turns 32 in July, did not play last season due to an ankle injury. Player personnel director Duke Tobin said the Bengals are committed to keeping Green, but wouldn't delve into hypotheticals involving the franchise tag or if that might spark a holdout.

A benchmark Green's camp is surely focused in is the contract the Atlanta Falcons gave Julio Jones last summer -- a three-year, $66 million extension that included $64 million in guarantees and $25 million up front. Jones, 31, was drafted two spots behind Green in 2011.

Green is hopeful the sides can agree on a deal that doesn't involve the franchise tag. If the two sides can't come to terms on a long-term contract resolution before the March 12 deadline, the tag will cost $18 million.

"The franchise tag is not the best thing," Green said last month. "But like I said, I'm not turning down $18 million. It just happens. When you run a business, you have to make difficult decisions. But I feel like when you put that on me, then that's what you're showing me, you only want me for one year. And I always play with a chip on my shoulder."

Potential No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow chimed in with his support for Green on Tuesday. Burrow, the Heisman Trophy winner from LSU who has Ohio roots and could replace Andy Dalton as the team's starter, said Green staying in the Queen City would be a big advantage and major positive to an incoming quarterback.

"With any rookie quarterback the more help you can get the better," Burrow said. "A.J. Green has been one of the best at what he does for a long time. If I'm lucky enough to be picked No. 1, he's someone you want there."

A seven-time Pro Bowl selection, Green has recorded 602 receptions for 8,907 yards and 63 touchdowns in 111 games since the Bengals selected him fourth overall in the 2011 NFL Draft.

--By Jeff Reynolds, Field Level Media

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