On Tuesday, A.J. Green said everything he’s said previously. He said everything he’s supposed to say.
The Bengals receiver surely is sincere in wanting to stay in Cincinnati.
But the truth is: Green has no idea what his future is given his contract expires after this season and he has played only nine games in two seasons.
The Bengals are expected to franchise Green, giving him the one-year tender worth $18 million to keep him off the market if they can’t reach a long-term deal before free agency.
“I have no problem with the franchise [tag],” Green said, via Geoff Hobson of the team website. “I don’t like it, but I’m not a guy that’s going to sit out the whole year. But at the end of the day, that shows me they’re not committed to me. That’s fine. They have a business they have to run. As the player, I have my own business, so if you do that I have to protect myself.
“If you’re not committed to me long-term, I understand. There are no hard feelings. You have a business to run. All great businesses face difficult decisions. I understand that. For me, I have to make a big decision as well.”
Green has not played this season because of torn ligaments in his ankle and is unlikely to play the final two games. He is rehabbing to get ready for 2020.
“Nobody ever pushed me. I’ve felt no pressure to come back and play,” Green said. “But you know this is a business. You never know. This could be my last big deal. I have to make sure everything is right and then we go from there. But I’ll be ready to go.”
The Bengals are 20-41-1 the past four seasons. They qualified for the postseason each of Green’s first five seasons, but he has never experienced a playoff victory.
With only one victory this season, the Bengals likely will have the top pick in the 2020 draft. Either LSU quarterback Joe Burrow or Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert seemingly would rank at the top of their wish list.
“It’s exciting,” Green said. “Where ever the pick is going to be, it’s going be a big effect on our team. You pick that high you’re going to draft a guy that’s going to make an impact on the team at that moment.
“I just want to win at this point in my career. It’s not just about the money. It’s about continuing to build my legacy, and that’s by winning.”
Green trails Chad Johnson’s team records by 150 catches, 1,877 yards and seven touchdowns.
“That was the goal always,” Green said. “To break every receiving record here.”