Bengals' Mike Brown: AJ Green Expected to Get New Contract, Andy Dalton Will Not

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistMarch 27, 2019

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green, right, celebrates with quarterback Andy Dalton (14) after scoring a touchdown in the first half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)
Bryan Woolston/Associated Press

After the Cincinnati Bengals moved on from longtime coach Marvin Lewis this offseason, the franchise faces a critical juncture with a pair of its cornerstones. 

At the NFL's annual meetings this week, Bengals owner Mike Brown let it be known he is looking for quarterback Andy Dalton to prove himself before the two sides think about an extension. 

"I think it's a good year for [Dalton] to show like he can, like we think he will," Brown said, per the Cincinnati Enquirer's Fletcher Page. "After he re-establishes himself we would want to get together with him and see if we can extend it.

"I think Andy is a good player and that he will rebound off last year. He was hurt. We lost so many other pieces. It fell apart, but if he's healthy and we stay healthy enough, I have confidence in him."

Meanwhile, the club is ready to have negotiations with star wideout A.J. Green, who is entering the final year of his contract:

"Oh, I think he's a proven commodity, isn't he? The price range for him will be something for him will be something we can figure out, will come together.

"It's true with anyone, if they suddenly get an injury that it reduces them. Well that changes the equation, but I never plan on that happening. I like to think that won't happen. If A.J. is healthy, he's as good a receiver as anybody in the league."

Dalton and Green entered the league together back in 2011 and immediately formed a strong connection.

Green has hauled in 602 catches for 8,907 yards and 63 touchdowns in the eight seasons since being taken fourth overall. He earned seven consecutive Pro Bowl selections in the process and was on his way to an eighth last year before a toe injury limited him to just nine games.

As he enters his age 31 season, he has missed six-plus games in two of the last three seasons. However, his game-changing talent has the team ready to commit big money to him.

With Green nearing the end of a four-year, $60 million extension he signed back in 2015, he is due for a nice pay day. And while the Bengals have missed the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, he made it clear back in November that he is looking to play out his entire career in one uniform, per the Cincinnati Enquirer's Paul Dehner Jr.:

Paul Dehner Jr. @pauldehnerjr

Asked A.J. Green if he is happy in this organization and answer reminded me how much he idolizes Larry Fitzgerald. https://t.co/Q5CEKxQ5ub

There is certainly some urgency with Green entering his walk year. The same cannot be said for Dalton, though.

A second-round pick back in 2011, Dalton still has two years remaining on the six-year, $115 million extension he signed in 2014. And at 31 years old, questions still remain about his game.

Dalton helped the Bengals reach the playoffs in each of his first five seasons. However, it was with then-backup A.J. McCarron in the infamous 2016 Wild Card Game that Cincinnati came closest to its first postseason victory since 1991.

Since returning from a thumb injury that sidelined him for the end of the 2015 season, Dalton has not led the Bengals to a winning record, let alone a postseason berth. It's worth noting that Green has missed 13 games over the last three seasons.

The Bengals are hoping the hiring of offensive-minded Zac Taylor will help Dalton take the next step. Taylor has made it clear on several occasions in his first few months on the job that he believes in Dalton: 

Katherine Terrell @Kat_Terrell

Question to Zac Taylor: "Do you see Dalton as your guy?" "Absolutely." "…For the next 5,6,7,8 years?" "Yeah. I have full belief in our quarterback. And, Andy, again, going back, I’ve watched him a long time and I have a ton of respect for Andy...

The 2019 campaign figures to go a long way in determining how much longer Dalton will be under center in Cincinnati.