The Cincinnati Bengals will place receiver A.J. Green on injured reserve this week, a largely transactional move that will offer the team a chance to perhaps give another player a look in the regular-season finale with the roster spot the move opens up.
Green never played a game this season with the Bengals; he suffered torn ankle ligaments on the first day of training camp, and while rookie head coach Zac Taylor told media in early November that Green would make his season debut, it never came to pass.
He played just seven games last season.
This is the final year of Green’s contract, one that paid him $12 million this season.
So what happens next for the seven-time Pro Bowler?
Now 31 years old — he’ll turn 32 during training camp next July — Green said last week that he doesn’t know his future, but he wants to play another five years. He also said wants to stay in Cincinnati, but he kind of has to say that he doesn’t want to leave.
The question, of course, is does Green really feel that way?
The Bengals have one win, and cemented the No. 1 overall pick in the draft with their overtime loss to the Dolphins on Sunday. If they use that pick on a quarterback, Andy Dalton, whose contract is slated to end after the 2020 season, could be gone.
The jury is still out on whether or not Taylor is a good head coach — known as an offensive coach, the Bengals are last in the league in scoring and near the bottom in third-down conversion, red-zone percentage and turnovers, and he benched Dalton midway through the season only to go back to him a month later.
There aren’t many big-name receivers currently slated to hit free agency: in addition to Green, Amari Cooper and Emmanuel Sanders could both hit the market. If Green wants to enjoy success, will he move on? He’s been to the playoffs four times but never moved beyond the first round, and Cincinnati hasn’t qualified since 2015.
If Tom Brady stays in New England, could Green be lured to play with him on the Patriots? Would the Eagles, who are incredibly thin at the position, make a run? Maybe the promising Cardinals, who could be saying goodbye to Larry Fitzgerald, would want another top-flight receiver for Kyler Murray to throw to?
Green told reporters last week, “I know when I come back I’ll be the same A.J.” A lot of teams could use a player like that.
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