CINCINNATI — The Bengals used their franchise tag on A.J. Green on Monday, giving them time to try to work out a long-term deal with the seven-time Pro Bowler.
Green, 31, wants to finish his career in Cincinnati, where he has put down roots. And head coach Zac Taylor repeated Monday that he wants Green to stay.
“A.J. has been a big part of this team for a long time," Taylor said. “Now that he’s healthy, I am excited to see what he will add to our offense this year.”
The Bengals also extended tender offers to tight end Cethan Carter, guard Alex Redmond, defensive tackle Josh Tupou and safety Brandon Wilson, making them restricted free agents. The Bengals have the right to match any offer they receive.
Although he’s open to a multi-year extension that would pay him as an elite receiver, Green has objected to staying for only one more year on a franchise designation and said he would skip voluntary offseason workouts if he were tagged.
The Bengals are expected to take Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow or another quarterback with the first overall pick in the draft, and having Green in offseason workouts would accelerate a rookie’s development. Burrow made a point at the Scouting Combine to say he hopes Green would be on his team if the Bengals draft him.
“The tag is $18 million (in salary), so I’m not running away from that,” Green said in December. “But that also shows that they’re not committed, and in that circumstance I have to protect myself.”
The Bengals can negotiate with Green on a long-term deal through July 15. Green can talk to other teams, but the Bengals have the right to match any offer and keep him. Or, they could let him leave and get two first-round picks as compensation — a prohibitively high price for any team interested in signing him.
Green was limited to nine games in 2018 because of an injured right toe that required surgery. He was fully recovered last season, but suffered a severe ankle injury when he was hit during a 7-on-7 drill and landed awkwardly during the first practice of training camp. Even though the ankle eventually healed enough to allow him to practice on a limited basis, he missed the entire season. He’s expected to be fully healthy for the start of next season.
Green became the first receiver since the NFL merger in 1970 to be chosen for the Pro Bowl in each of his first seven seasons. He’s second to Chad Johnson for most catches and yards receiving in franchise history.