Since being drafted in the top five in the 2011 NFL Draft, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green had been named to the Pro Bowl every season up until 2018—and he likely would have made it yet again had he not been sidelined by a toe injury in Week Eight.
Now the star wide receiver, who will turn 31 in the Summer, is due for another contract extension. He is entering the final year of a four-year, $60 million contract extension that he signed in 2015, and he counts just a bit over $15 million against the cap this year with a base salary just shy of $12 million.
Perhaps due to the climate in which we saw former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown and former New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. traded to the Oakland Raiders and the Cleveland Browns, respectively, there are rumors of teams inquiring about possibly trading for Green, but that doesn’t appear likely to get off the ground.
Said Bengals owner Mike Brown, “I think he’s a proven commodity, isn’t he?. The price range for him will be something we can figure out, will come together”.
With Julio Jones having recently said that—unlike Brown—he doesn’t care about being the highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL, Green has similarly expressed that attitude last year. Back in the Summer, as he was heading into the final two years of his deal, he said, “I think the biggest thing for me, I’m always comfortable with stuff I’m doing – I signed a deal and I’m comfortable with the deal and I just live with it”.
“At the end of the day I just want to play football. I got my contract. I’m set for life. Now I can just go out there and play”, he added. Later in the season, when he suffered the toe injury that ended his season, he was adamant that, unlike a previous injury in which he allowed the team to shut him down, he was determined to return to the field even though the Bengals’ season had already been lost.
“I don’t care what our record was, I was coming back to play again”, Green told reporters. “When you sit out everything is not a given and it puts other things in perspective and don’t take anything for granted. I don’t care if we were 0 and 15 and I have to play the last game of the season. I would just be happy to be back and do whatever it takes to help this team win”.
Not that it’s a requirement, but loyalty—going both ways—sometimes seems to be a rare commodity in today’s NFL. Green has always struck me as the type of person who wants to play for one team and one team only, provided that they do right by him.
Though he is coming off an injury, I don’t imagine that will hurt his value too much. It will be interesting to see where his next extension puts him in the pay-scale hierarchy. $15 million per season was a lot more in 2015 than it is in 2019, with seven players accounting for more than that—including two on the Browns.