A.J. Green agrees to multiyear deal with Bengals

ByColey Harvey ESPN logo
Saturday, September 12, 2015

CINCINNATI --A.J. Green will stay in Bengals stripes a while longer after signing a four-year contract extension that runs through 2019.

The Bengals announced the new deal Friday. According to NFL Network, the contract is worth $60 million.

The signing is a clear indication that the Bengals think highly of the Pro Bowl receiver. It is a sign that they want to keep the nucleus of their offense intact, continuing to build around Green and quarterback Andy Dalton, who was signed last year to a massive extension that could keep him in Cincinnati through 2020. Since both were drafted in the first two rounds in 2011, they have been viewed as foundational pieces of the Bengals' offense.

"Everyone in football, and people who follow football, know that A.J. is a special talent," coach Marvin Lewis said. "He makes plays that you wouldn't think could be made. He's an outstanding teammate and a leader you can rely on. He still has a long, great future ahead of him in Cincinnati."

The signing came on the final day of a negotiation window that the organization had opened before the season. The Bengals wanted to have a deal in place before they boarded buses Friday afternoon to fly to Oakland for their season opener. Had a deal not been reached, they would have waited until the offseason to work on the new contract.

Green said talks accelerated last week between his agent Ben Dogra and the Bengals.

Just before news of Green's deal started surfacing, Lewis met with reporters and complimented the receiver on the way he had handled the negotiation process throughout the offseason.

"A.J.'s handled it very well," Lewis said. "Obviously there [was] the speculation and everything going on around all the time, and he's been A.J. through it all, which is really good. Again, it just kind of shows his maturity and everything that he has, his inner strength and all the things that we know are common to A.J. Green."

Lewis highlighted Green's "tight" circle, which primarily includes his wife Miranda and a few teammates, as part of the reason the receiver remained focused in practice and preseason games this past month.

The first person Green called when the deal was official was his father, who at the time was cutting grass in Green's native South Carolina. His mother was at work.

"She's screaming in the background," Green said. "They're both very excited, and I'm glad I could definitely sign this deal and honor them and get them some of the things they wanted. It's just a blessing."

It was only a matter of time before Green's deal would be formalized after other top-tier receivers signed lofty extensions earlier this summer. Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas and Julio Jones inked deals that paid them in the ballpark of $70 million across five years. Each also signed for guarantees in the $43-47 million range.

Like Jones, Green was a 2011 first-round draft pick. He was claimed two spots ahead of Jones at No. 4 overall.

Arguably one of the most quiet and unassuming players in the Bengals locker room, Green said he never has cared about getting paid a lot of money. His goal is to lead the Bengals to a Super Bowl and make it to the Hall of Fame.

"If you look at those guys who put on a jacket, it's always those guys who win Super Bowls, at least one, and been with a team their whole career," Green said. "That's what I'm trying to get."

Green has had more than 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first four seasons. He is 98 catches shy of having the most receptions through the first five years of a career in league history.

After dealing with a series of injuries that caused him to miss parts of six games, Green called 2014 a "disappointment." He is eager to stay healthy this season and to perform even better.

"We always say we set the tone, the receivers set the tone," wideout Marvin Jones said. "We have the ability to go and make the big catches and get the oohs and ahhs. That's our goal, and he definitely starts it."

Green is glad the deal is now behind him and that he can focus on Sunday's opener. His mission is to remain the same unassuming person, even if his checks have grown.

"I'm still the same old A.J.," Green said, "just got a little bit more money."

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