We could be looking at one of the biggest free agency periods in recent memory if some of the notable names actually hit the open market. Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Derrick Henry are just a few of the big names set to hit unrestricted free agency when the new league year opens on March 18th. One or more stands a good chance of signing a contract with their current team before then, but there is a chance one or more is taking calls when the tampering period opens on March 16th.
2019 in review
There’s not much to say for A.J. Green’s 2019 season, as he failed to ever make an appearance on the field due to a nagging ankle injury. Zac Taylor and A.J. Green teased fantasy football players all season as they kept fantasy owners hopeful of a possible mid-season return. Every time Green seemed to be making true progress and owners thought he’d be back soon, Green would have a setback and the timetable would be pushed back a few weeks. This went on the entire season until most came to the disappointing realization that we were not going to see Green play in 2019.
Green will be well rested heading into the 2020 season and current reports indicate that Green’s ankle should be good to go for the start of the season. Green knows this may be his last chance to cash in on a big deal, which likely factored into his unwillingness to take any risks with his ankle last year. While he has struggled with his health at times, Green has proven that he is one of the best in the business when he can avoid injury.
There are plenty of wide receiver-needy teams out there, with one of the most notable being the New England Patriots. They have not been shy about trying out veteran wide receivers with proven talent, as we saw them give Antonio Brown and Demaryius Thomas a chance last season. Neither of them panned out, and on paper Green looks like a much better bet for this team. Tom Brady’s best days may be behind him, but that doesn’t mean he still can’t be dangerous with talented wide receivers at his disposal.
Speaking of elite quarterbacks who may be past their prime, the Green Bay Packers have both Geronimo Allison and Ryan Grant becoming free agents this year and seem to endlessly be searching for a solid compliment to start across from Davante Adams. Green could certainly fill that role.
Do the Bengals want to keep him?
The Bengals will likely try to work something out with Green, as he has spent his entire career playing in Cincinnati. Zac Taylor has been very open about wanting Green back next season, though Green does not seem to feel as strongly about staying with the Bengals.
With the first pick of the draft in 2020, the Bengals are expected to draft their new franchise quarterback. They may value having a veteran target on the squad who can be a sure set of hands and a good mentor for whomever that rookie quarterback may be.
There is even a chance that the Bengals opt to use the franchise tag for Green, which may garner him a one year salary around $18 million. The tag now has a new deadline of March 12 per an agreement reached between the NFL and NFLPA. Green has indicated he is more interested in a long term contract so only time will tell how this all plays out.
When healthy, Green is a WR1 regardless of where he is playing. With the Bengals quarterback situation being more of a question mark at this point, staying in Cincinnati may initially place Green in the low end WR1/WR2 territory until the situation is ironed out. His value would be significantly upgraded should he land on a team with a veteran quarterback such as the Patriots or the Packers.
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler most recently reported that Green hopes to land somewhere other than Cincinnati this offseason, but the Bengals won’t let him go easily.
March 1: The Bengals plan on using the franchise tag on Green if a long-term deal can’t be reached, per beat writer Tyler Dragon.
There is talk that the Buffalo Bills have been showing interest in A.J. Green since last year and according to a recent report on Syracuse.com those interests have not dwindled throughout the offseason. He could be a nice compliment opposite John Brown in Buffalo.
New England Patriots
According to a piece by Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller the Patriots are looking to bring Green in as a chip to hopefully sway Brady to stay with the organization.
An article on Jagswire suggests that Jacksonville’s addition of Jay Gruden may lead to increased interest in bringing Green on board, as Gruden served as offensive coordinator for the Bengals during Green’s first three NFL seasons.
Most of this information is pure speculation at this point, but one thing is certain when it comes to A.J. Green: his list of suitors come free agency will likely be a long one.