Last season, the Cincinnati Bengals had an opportunity to trade their long time star WR, AJ Green. Rumors had teams such as the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints being willing to deal a first round pick in 2020 for Green, an offer that many in hindsight might be wishing the Bengals had taken.
Bengals fans knew that this season would be a reboot of sorts, with head coach Zac Taylor in his second season and new franchise QB Joe Burrow in his rookie year, along with a lot of other young talent on both sides of the ball. There was an expectation that the young gunslinger would have one of the NFL’s greatest wide receivers of the past decade helping ease his transition but five games into the season, that simply hadn’t been the case.
There’s a lot of conversation surrounding Green’s lack of production thus far this season, and now there’s further talk about a disastrous Week 5 for Green. To me, watching Green after the interception from Burrow to Ravens’ defensive standout, Marcus Peters, it was incredibly evident that Green is extremely fearful of being hurt again. As for him appearing to say “Trade Me” on the sidelines, can you blame the guy for being frustrated?
It’s hard to really call Green out. The last several seasons have been filled with one injury after another. He’s seen his long time head coach, Marvin Lewis, get fired. He’s seen Andy Dalton, who was taken in the same draft class as him, get released. He’s seen the Bengals load up with talented younger WR’s over the past few years. Green is 32, has seen the team he played his whole career with start to get rebuilt and his personal injuries are accumulating. He’s coming up on the end of his contract. He knows he’s in the latter years of his career and there’s a lot on the line for him. The mental blocks he’s facing and the fear of injuries are understandable.
Can AJ Green recover though? He left Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury that could have him out several weeks. What’s this going to do to AJ’s confidence? While all this is happening, Joe Burrow continues to build a rapport with his WRs of the future, Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins. Are AJ’s days in Cincinnati coming to a close?
As great as it would be to see AJ Green play for one team his whole career, maybe he does need a change of scenery. The Cincinnati Bengals aren’t notoriously active when it comes to trades and lets face it, the market value for Green isn’t going to be nearly what it was a year ago, but Green could make the choice to sign elsewhere after this season.
On the other hand, maybe a few weeks off with this hamstring injury could be a blessing in disguise for AJ Green; a chance to regain his composure and come back to finish the year strong. Even if he’s not a Bengal next season, it would still be nice to see him leave “The Jungle” on a high note. After the career he’s had over the last decade, anything less than AJ Green leaving with his head held high would be heartbreaking.