With no long-term deal between the Bengals and receiver A.J. Green, the 10th-year veteran remains eligible to earn $17.865 million under the one-year franchise tender in 2020. Because he has yet to sign the tender, he can withhold services from training camp and the preseason (if there is one), showing up just before the start of the regular season and earning the full amount of his franchise-player pay.
But there’s an important wrinkle, one that rarely has been an issue since the launch of the franchise tag 27 years ago. Unless and until Green accepts the tender, the Bengals can rescind it.
Rescinding the tender would save $17.865 million in cash and cap space for the Bengals. Given the anticipated lost revenue resulting from football games without fans, Bengals owner Mike Brown surely has at least pondered the possibility of making a move that would result in Green not playing for the Bengals in 2020 — especially since a training-camp injury resulted in him not playing for the Bengals in 2019.
The cash savings would apply this year, and the cap space could be carried over into 2021. If the cap drops dramatically due to the lost revenue in 2020, that extra space could make it much easier for the team to operate next season.
A franchise tender has been rescinded only three times. Philadelphia did it to linebacker Jeremiah Trotter in 2002, the Eagles did it three years later to defensive tackle Corey Simon, and the Panthers did it in 2016 to cornerback Josh Norman. It’s a rare move, but this is a rare season. Money will be lost. The Bengals can save a large chunk of that lost money simply be bidding farewell to Green, seven months or so before they likely otherwise will.
They also could try to trade Green. But which team is in a position to absorb that much of a cash and cap obligation for a guy who turns 32 in 16 days and who didn’t play at all last year due to injury, especially when he can’t be signed to a long-term deal until after the 2020 season ends?
That’s the best argument in favor of Green signing the tender ASAP. If the tender were to be rescinded, would another team pay him $17.865 million this year? And if he were to get $17.865 million for 2020, how many more years would he have to commit to on the back end?
Rescinding the tender definitely would be an unprecedented move. But in an unprecedented year, it’s impossible to rule anything out. Given the amount of uncertainty currently percolating through the football world and the country at large, the $17.865 million becomes a bird in the hand that Green may want to take to the bank, while he can.