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Bengals still talking with A.J. Green, but contract extension unlikely

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green practices before an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Frank Victores)
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green practices before an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Frank Victores)

Deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign long-term deals is Wednesday

The Cincinnati Bengals’ negotiations with wide receiver A.J. Green have been ongoing, but it remains unlikely a contract extension will be reached by Wednesday’s deadline.

NFL teams have until 4 p.m. Wednesday to come to a long-term agreement with their franchise-tagged players. Green is among two players in the league whose status remains uncertain, along with Jaguars defensive end Yannkick Ngakoue, but reports continue to indicate the Bengals are expecting Green to play on the franchise tag.

Green, who turns 32 later this month, missed the entire 2019 season because of ankle surgery and was sidelined seven games in 2018 because of a toe injury. The Bengals want to make sure he’s healthy before agreeing to a new deal.

“They don’t sound overly optimistic in Cincinnati that their best pass catcher will be locked up long term,” ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler said on SportsCenter on Saturday. “They expect he’ll play this year on the tag, sort of a feeling-out period for both parties.

“… They still consider him one of the best wide receivers when healthy. They know he’s ready to go right now and finally healed up. Maybe a one-year tag is best for both parties.”

Green has indicated multiple times in the past that he will not hold out if he does not get a long-term deal. In that case, the wide receiver will play out 2020 on a one-year, $17.971 million deal.

It’s still unclear whether Green will participate in a full training camp, which is set to begin July 28. He wasn’t planning to do offseason workouts with the team, had they held them.

“Of course, I understand,” Green said in December. “It’s $18 million. I’m not sitting out a year. My wife would kill me for that. I wouldn’t sit out, but you have to understand that the franchise tag means you’re not committed to the long term so the offseason workouts, training camp, stuff like that would be questionable.”

Bengals coach Zac Taylor wouldn’t confirm whether or not Green was doing the virtual team meetings this spring, but in May, he indicated he still had a good relationship with Green and had remained in contact with him. Taylor said they are “in a good spot” in terms of communication.

“Everything has been positive with A.J Green,” Taylor said. “He’s fully healthy and he’s working hard. He’s been in Atlanta. It’s all been positive in that regard.”

Despite any qualms Green might have about contract negotiations, he hasn’t let that impact his relationships with teammates. He reached out to new quarterback Joe Burrow on social media after the draft, telling him he would go wherever Burrow wants to meet to do some passing drills.

Taylor said in April that’s representative of the character on the Bengals’ roster and how guys are willing to work.

“That’s great,” he said. “Again, A.J. is a great representative of what we’re trying to build here in terms of leaders taking these young guys under their wings to an extent — reaching out to them, making them a part of this organization, making them feel comfortable.”

Last month, ESPN’s Dan Graziano also reported on the unlikelihood that Green would be given an extension and wondered if Green could be traded later this summer. The Bengals have never indicated that would be an option, though, as Taylor said during the NFL Combine he fully expects Green to be with the team when games begin in September.

“(I’m) very confident,” Taylor said in February. “We want him to be a part of Cincinnati. He’s got a great history with the organization. He’s been a great member of the community, a great leader on our team. … I’ve really enjoyed getting to know A.J. I look forward to coaching A.J. really for the first time going into next season. We’re still working through the process with him, but we know he’s going to be a Bengal come September.”