Joe Burrow is already acting like a boss in Cincinnati.
After it was reported that the Bengals plan to franchise tag A.J. Green, NBC’s Peter King reported that the former LSU quarterback had “made it clear” to the organization that he wanted them to keep the 31-year-old wide receiver.
“I think with any rookie quarterback, the more help you can get, the better, and A.J.’s been one of the best players at his position for a very long time,” Burrow told reporters at the NFL Combine.
The Bengals could feel pressured to make the 23-year-old Burrow happy. After finishing with a league-worst 2-14 record in 2019 and facing criticism for their dearth of talent and lack of winning culture, the former Heisman Trophy winner says he feels he has “leverage” as the 2020 NFL Draft’s consensus top prospect.
The predicament has prompted some to urge Burrow to “pull an Eli Manning,” but he quashed those rumors at the combine last week.
“I’m not going to not play,” Burrow said. “I’m going to show up.”
After a stellar rookie season and seven consecutive Pro Bowl selections, the past few years have been marred by injuries for Green, the fourth-overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft. The former Georgia Bulldog has missed 29 games since 2016 due to injury and sat out the entire 2019 season after tearing ligaments in his ankle during the first practice of the preseason.
Green inked a four-year, $60 million contract in 2015, $32.75 million of which was guaranteed. The wideout has made it clear he favors a long-term contract over the franchise tag, which is expected to be worth around $18.5 million for wide receivers, according to Over the Cap.
“The franchise tag is not the best thing,” Green said. “But like I said, I’m not turning down $18 million. It just happens. When you run a business, you have to make difficult decisions. … I feel like when you put that on me, then that’s what you’re showing me, you only want me for one year. And I always play with a chip on my shoulder.”
Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin spoke highly of Green at the combine last week and said “[we] want him to be part of the future.”