A.J. Green to the Bengals: ‘Long-term deal or let me go’

Sam Greene/Cincinnati Enquirer via USA TODAY SPORTS

It was somewhat surprising to see the winless Cincinnati Bengals hang on to seven-time Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green through Tuesday’s trade deadline.

Sure Green has missed the first eight games of the season with an ankle injury, but the number of teams interested in him was not limited. That included both the New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers.

An impending free agent, it’s unclear if Green has a future in Cincinnati. The team is in the initial stages of a rebuild and just benched longtime battery mate Andy Dalton.

In talking about the situation as he nears a return to the field, Green provided the Bengals’ brass with an ultimatum. Sign the receiver to a long-term deal or let him walk in free agency.

“I’m not into a one-year,” Green said on Wednesday, via ESPN’s Ben Baby. “Give me a long-term (contract) or just let me go.”

It’s not yet clear if the Bengals (or any team for that matter) would be willing to offer Green a long-term deal. He’s 31 years old and has missed 15 games since the start of last season to injury.

It’s also important to note that Green is indeed happy in Cincinnati, even if the team is not winning.

“I’m not going to be a guy that says, ‘Oh I want to get traded’ and then go to a situation where I’m not happy,” Green said. “Like, I’m genuinely happy here,” Green noted. “We might not win, but I’m happy here. But at the end of the day, this is a business. I know my worth and I know what I bring to this team.”

At this point, it’s really all about the Bengals’ direction moving forward. Unless rookie Ryan Finley shows them something over the final half of the season, the Bengals will likely look quarterback early in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Having someone like Green, if healthy, could help the unnamed quarterback excel out of the gate.

On the other hand, Green is not going to take a one-year or short-term deal with Cincinnati. Regardless of his happiness with the Bengals, better opportunities could come calling in March.