CINCINNATI (AP) — Receiver A.J. Green signed his one-year, $17.9 million contract Friday after the deadline passed for agreeing to a long-term deal with the Cincinnati Bengals.
The club used its franchise tag on Green, who missed all last season with an ankle injury. Green wanted a multiyear deal but said he wouldn’t hold out if the club used the tag to keep him around for another year.
Green said Friday he had come to terms with the tag, which was not his preference, and had no hard feelings.
“I don’t feel that’s a bad thing anymore,” he said on a videoconference call.
The Bengals could try to negotiate a multiyear deal at the end of the 2020 season. Green has said he’d like to finish his career in Cincinnati, where he holds many of the franchise’s receiving records.
He said there’s still a possibility of a long-term deal. He noted that the front office wanted to make sure he was healthy after two seasons scuttled by toe and ankle injuries.
“I know my value, and they also need to see me play,” Green said. “We had great communication.
“The feeling is mutual that I love being a Bengal. I always wanted to envision myself retiring with that one team. That’s still on the table. Stay healthy and see what happens.”
After nine years of Green teaming with quarterback Andy Dalton, the Bengals made a clean break following a 2-14 finish. Quarterback Joe Burrow went to Cincinnati with the first overall pick in the draft. The Bengals then took Clemson receiver Tee Higgins — who patterns his game on Green’s — in the second round.
Dalton was released and signed with Dallas.
Green’s presence gives Burrow a deep receiving group that includes Tyler Boyd, who caught 90 passes for 1,046 yards and five touchdowns last season with Green sidelined. The Bengals return running back Joe Mixon, who ran for 1,137 yards and caught 35 passes for 287 yards.
Green tore up his left ankle during the first practice of training camp in Dayton. The club kept him on the active roster, hoping he’d be able to return at midseason, but he had setbacks when close to coming back.
Green said Friday the ankle is fully healed and he’s been running patterns for several months without problem.
He’s eager to get a fresh start with Burrow, who won a national championship at LSU. He noted it’ll be similar to how he and Dalton started in 2011, when the NFL’s lockout wiped out offseason workouts and wasn’t lifted until the start of training camp. The Bengals reached the playoffs that season.
The pandemic has prevented teams from practicing together or holding minicamps in the offseason.
“For Andy and me, when we first got drafted in 2011 we didn’t have the OTAs,” Green said. “We went straight into training camp, just like this situation. Everything I’m hearing about Joe, he’s a smart guy so I feel he can handle all this. He’s played at the highest level.”
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