The Bengals and wide receiver A.J. Green reportedly agreed to a four-year, $60 million extension on Friday after protracted negotiations.
"Money doesn't motivate me," Green said, according to Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer. "I want to put on that jacket one day. That's what motivated me. People forgot about me because of injuries. I'm still elite. Definitely a chip on my shoulder."
"I'm still the same old A.J," Green continued, per Dehner. "Just with a lot more money."
Green, 27, had one year remaining on his rookie contract. He was due to make $10.18 million in base salary for 2015 after the Bengals picked up his fifth-year option, per Spotrac.com.
The No. 4 overall selection in the 2011 NFL draft, Green has become everything Cincinnati expected and more. He is already a four-time Pro Bowler and became just the second receiver in history to have 1,000 or more yards in each of his first four seasons. He is also one of only 15 wideouts since the merger to post 35 or more touchdowns this early in his career.
"It doesn't say anything about me," Green told reporters. "They're three different teams. Three different people. You don't know what their situation is. All I can do is control what I can do, and that's play football. Everything after that takes care of itself."
In 2014, Green struggled with injuries but still had 69 receptions for 1,041 yards.
The Georgia product led the league last season in Pro Football Focus' yards per route run metric and made nine receptions on passes that went 20 yards or longer in the air. He's also been tasked on occasion with propping up Dalton, who battles fits of inaccuracy and can at times leave his receivers hanging out to dry.
Green's new contract probably closes the gap between the two sides from a value standpoint. At his age, the long-term deal should take him through nearly the rest of his prime, though NFL contracts are typically never 100 percent as they seem.
We will have to take a look at the full structure of Green's deal to figure out when exactly the Bengals will have to make a decision about his future.
Barring a serious injury, Green will be around as long as he chooses.
The Bengals committed to the Dalton-Green core by signing the former to a six-year, $115 million deal in August 2014. Although many questioned the high cost given Dalton's struggles in the postseason, Cincinnati has made the playoffs each year since the pair's arrival. It's the first four-peat playoff appearance in franchise history.
Considering the historic futility Bengals fans saw in the 1990s and early 2000s, it's not surprising management wants to keep the core together.
Dalton's contract is front-loaded and team friendly, so Cincinnati has some protection in that regard. That said, it'll be interesting to see if Green and (especially) Dalton can take the next step now that they've gotten paid.
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