Contract negotiations between the Bengals and A.J. Green reportedly intensified this week, with several reports yesterday indicating that the two sides were working hard to reach an agreement. The heightened sense of urgency in the talks appears to be a product of a looming deadline for Green and the Bengals — according to Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer (Twitter link), the deadline for a new deal is later today, when the team departs for Oakland.
It’s not clear if Green or the Bengals – or both – are pushing to shut down contract discussions if a deal isn’t reached by the end of the day, but the star wideout said earlier in the summer that he’d be willing to play out the final year of his rookie contract, while the team seemed more eager to work something out. If he doesn’t sign a new contract this year, Green would earn $10.176MM, the value of his fifth-year option, in 2015, and then would be a strong candidate for the franchise tag in the winter.
Receivers like Demaryius Thomas, Dez Bryant, and Julio Jones have inked new, long-term contracts in recent months, creating a blueprint for a potential Green extension. However, while Owczarski writes that the Bengals are willing to meet that $14MM+ benchmark in terms of annual salary, the guaranteed money involved in the agreement may be a sticking point. Cincinnati is typically reluctant to give out significant guaranteed money on contract extensions, with even quarterback Andy Dalton getting a modest $17MM guarantee on his new $96MM deal last year.
For his part, Green isn’t saying much about the negotiations, telling Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com (Twitter link) this morning that he doesn’t know whether anything will get done. The fourth overall pick out of Georgia in 2011, Green has made four consecutive Pro Bowls since entering the league. After catching 97 balls in 2012 and 98 in 2013, he was slowed down last year with injuries, finishing with 1,041 yards and six touchdowns on 69 receptions. With the 2015 season about to get underway, the 27-year-old looks healthy and poised for a big year.