It’s not uncommon by any means for a new head coach coming in to replace a longstanding regime to start tearing things apart. After the Cincinnati Bengals parted ways with Marvin Lewis following a 16-year pairing, they brought in a fresh face in Zac Taylor, who basically rebuilt the coaching staff.
There were some notable changes made to the roster as well, including but not limited to the release of Vontaze Burfict.
Now, midway through his first season, he has benched nine-year veteran starting quarterback Andy Dalton, in favor of rookie fourth-round pick Ryan Finley, who will be 25 already by the end of the season. Dalton was understandably not happy about the decision and wanted to facilitate a trade, but with the move coming so close to the deadline, it proved to be unfeasible.
Meanwhile, Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green is inching his way closer to making his 2019 debut, having already missed half the season with a foot injury that he suffered on the first day of training camp. He was still in the process of recovering from a toe injury that ended his 2018 season at the time.
Green was due to receive a contract extension this summer, but likely in large part due to the injury, the two sides were never really able to get around to it. Now that he is on the cusp of getting back on the field, having watched this new regime work for a couple months, he had some interesting and slightly surprising things to say about his future.
The former fourth-overall pick has long maintained that he wants to be a Bengal for the rest of his life, and that he has already, more or less, made all the money that he needs. But when he was asked about the possibility of being given the franchise tag, he rejected the idea.
This particular quote unsurprisingly didn’t get picked up by the team’s website. He said getting tagged “would be an insult” and that he’s “not into the one-year. Give me a long-term or just let me go”. He continued to sound off against the franchise tag in principle, especially for older players.
But the key takeaway here is that this is the first time in any capacity that Green has, to my knowledge, entertained the idea of parting ways. He did say that he’s “generally happy here” even though “we might not win”, but perhaps he wants to win, and get paid. And it’s hard to imagine he won’t be able to find that.
Provided that he can come into this second half of the season and show that he is still the same talented player who has made the Pro Bowl every single year of his career for which he was healthy. Asked if he can still be productive with a rookie quarterback, he said, “I can do it with anybody”.