Big-name wide receivers have been on the move lately, really over the past few years, to the point where one can’t help but wonder if it’s going to begin to become the new normal for high-profile players to move around more.
Even players under contract for a while are getting moved, sometimes at their own behest, sometimes not. Just look at the cases of former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown and former New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr.
If there is one Pro Bowl-level player at the position who doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere, though, it is A.J. Green and the Cincinnati Bengals. Green has been an integral part of their offense, and really their transformation into a respectable franchise, since he was made the fourth-overall pick in 2011.
The Bengals went to five straight postseasons in his first five years in the league, which accounts for the longest such streak in the team’s history. Even if they didn’t went any of the playoff games they got to participate in, that is an achievement, relatively speaking.
Not only does he put up big numbers, often seemingly under the radar, he has also consistently had a humble attitude and approach to the game and to the business, at least as long as Jalen Ramsey isn’t somewhere around pissing him off.
He has spoken several times over the years about how he is satisfied with his contract and isn’t looking to be the highest-paid at his position at every opportunity. Now entering the final year of his deal, and coming off an injury, he talked about his status at a recent charity event.
“Cincinnati’s home for me”, he said. “I’ve been here going on nine years, so this is home as much as South Carolina. It’s all I know, is Cincinnati. I can’t see myself playing anywhere else or playing in any [other] city. Hopefully I can be here for a couple more years, but we’ll see on that part”.
— Jeremy Rauch (@FOX19Jeremy) June 8, 2019
The Bengals actually got off to a 4-1 start last season before injuries started to mount, including injuries to Green and quarterback Andy Dalton. Several defensive starters missed extended periods of time as well, as Cincinnati slid into yet another losing season, their third in a row. Green has been injured for extended periods during two of those three years, not by coincidence.
In recent years, the Bengals have tried to supplement Green with Tyler Boyd, a former second-round pick, and John Ross, who like Green was a top-10 draft pick. Boyd came into his own last season with a 1000-yard season, but while Ross scored seven touchdowns, there is so much more room for him to grow and to create a role for himself.
The players seem to be optimistic about what new head coach Zac Taylor will bring to the table, but that remains to be seen in practicality. Green will be due for an extension later this summer, before the new offense is put to the test in a meaningful game.