Ex-Bengals WR A.J. Green, Cardinals Agree to Reported 1-Year, $8M Contract

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 17, 2021

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (18) warms up before an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
Aaron Doster/Associated Press

A.J. Green's time with the Cincinnati Bengals is over after a decade. The star wide receiver has agreed to a one-year, $8 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Green confirmed to ESPN's Josina Anderson he plans to sign with Arizona.

The Bengals shared a tribute on Twitter:

Cincinnati Bengals @Bengals

Adriel Jeremiah Green, one of the greatest to ever wear the stripes. https://t.co/zdkBkQrvfa

Green also reflected on his time with the team on Instagram:

Lindsay Patterson @LndsPatterson

AJ Green on his time in Cincinnati via his Instagram https://t.co/IRt1fEojNW

Cincinnati placed the franchise tag on him in March 2020, leaving the two sides with a July 15 deadline to work out a new multiyear contract. Instead, the deadline passed without a deal.

Green told reporters last July he didn't feel any lingering frustration with how the offseason played out:

"I've been hurt. It was always tough to get a deal on. Especially (because) I know my value and also, they still need to see me play. I understand that's a tough place to be when you're running a business. But like I said, we had great communication. That's one thing about this whole process. We understand each other. The points that we made, my agent (Ben Dogra) and I, the points [executive vice president Katie Blackburn] had made, for us the feeling is mutual. I always wanted to envision myself retiring at one team. That's still on the table. If I stay healthy, we'll see what happens."

The likelihood that Green would end his career in Cincinnati decreased as each week of the 2020 season unfolded.

Quarterback Joe Burrow's knee injury left the Bengals with one of the NFL's worst offenses, and they improved their record by just two wins following their 2-14 finish in 2019.

At one point, Green had to address what he said on the sideline during the team's Week 5 loss to the Baltimore Ravens after cameras caught him apparently saying the Bengals should trade him if they weren't going to use him properly.

Katherine Terrell @Kat_Terrell

Watching Red Zone and man, if it was John Ross executing the same level of effort AJ Green just did after that INT, he would be eviscerated on Twitter right now.

Ryan McCrystal @Ryan_McCrystal

I don’t understand what’s going on with AJ Green. As he demonstrated today, effort is at least a part of his disappearing act... but then why is he still in Cincy? He easily could’ve forced his way out. It was a good time for both sides to move on.

The seven-time Pro Bowler set personal lows nearly across the board. He caught 47 passes for 523 yards and two touchdowns. His 11.1 yards per reception were more than three yards below his career average (14.5), and his catch percentage dipped below 50 percent (45.2) for the first time, per Pro Football Reference.

This followed back-to-back forgettable seasons thanks to injuries.

Green was limited to nine games in 2018 because of a toe problem. Then he was out for the entirety of 2019 when torn ankle ligaments in the preseason proved to be far more serious than initially thought.

As impressive as his track record is, the 32-year-old may no longer be a top-end No. 1 wideout.

Perhaps an improvement in his performance will coincide with a change of scenery.

The Bengals haven't had a winning season since 2015, and it's anybody's guess when they'll be back in the playoffs. If Green became disillusioned in Cincinnati, you couldn't blame him. That may have impacted his effort on the field.

Now that he's a member of Arizona's offense, a rebound could be in store.

Green will benefit from the presence of DeAndre Hopkins. Not only does Hopkins take the pressure off in terms of what he's expected to deliver, but the three-time All-Pro also keeps opposing defenses occupied. Green never had an elite receiver line up opposite him in Cincinnati.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, find an upgrade as their secondary target behind Hopkins. Larry Fitzgerald, who turns 38 in August, no longer fills that role, and Christian Kirk doesn't boast Green's resume.

Quarterback Kyler Murray was building an MVP candidacy midway through 2020 before Arizona's season took a turn for the worse. The 2019 No. 1 overall pick has to be considered a contender for the award heading into 2021.