Now that the deadline for the Cincinnati Bengals to sign A.J. Green to an extension has come and gone, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk thinks there’s a chance the team will cut ties with its wide receiver entirely.
The NFL insider wrote on Thursday that he thinks team owner Mike Brown might see a way to save some cash by pulling back Green’s franchise tag offer. Because the receiver hasn’t signed the offer, it’s within the rules for the Bengals to do so.
The league’s rules allow for a player to play in a season under a franchise tag without signing it. Several players over the years have done this as a kind of protest against the franchise tag rule. Teams that have pulled the designation back and cut a player loose happens far less often.
This kind of tender has been rescinded only three times since the rule was first created 27 years ago. The Philadelphia Eagles did it twice in a three-year period. First, they did it with linebacker Jeremiah Trotter in 2002, and then three years later to defensive tackle Corey Simon. The Carolina Panthers did the same thing in 2016 to cornerback Josh Norman.
Florio pointed out that pulling back the tender is a rare move, but this is a rare season. It’s almost a certainty that the Bengals and other teams in the league are going to lose money. Fan attendance is either going to be severely reduced or barred altogether.
Florio said Cincinnati can save themselves about $18 million by getting rid of Green about seven months earlier than they would likely lose him anyway. The analyst added the Brown doesn’t have to lose Green with nothing in return.
One option is pulling back the tender. They could also trade Green and get money, draft picks, or a player more interested in playing for them in 2020 and beyond.
The problem, as the analyst wrote, is that there aren’t a ton of teams that are likely to be that interested. Green is turning 32 in a couple of weeks. His contract is pricey and so is his salary cap hit.
Green was also injured all of last year. The consensus is he’s totally healthy now, but the coronavirus pandemic has made it hard for any potential landing spots to confirm his health.
The analyst accepted that rescinding the contract would be an unprecedented move. This season is also an unprecedented situation. Cincinnati moving on from Green makes some sense to him only because of how the 2020 season is shaping up to be for the NFL.