CINCINNATI (AP)The Bengals kept receiver A.J. Green on the active roster all season, hoping he could return from ankle surgery and put some life back into their foundering offense. Turns out that was wishful thinking.
Green said Wednesday he has decided not to try to play in either of the final two games because his ankle isn’t fully healed.
The club’s most accomplished player also warned that he wouldn’t participate in most offseason practices next year if the Bengals use their franchise tag on him rather than offer a contract extension that meets his expectations.
”No, I can’t do that,” Green said of organized team activities in the offseason. ”Like I said, it’s a business. I understand if they franchise tag me, I can’t put myself in that situation to be here.”
Green said he’d like to stay in Cincinnati on a multiyear deal. He can become a free agent after this season, his ninth with the Bengals.
Green made the Pro Bowl each of his first seven seasons, the first receiver to do so since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. The streak ended last year when a toe injury wiped out half of his season.
This year, he hurt his left ankle during the first practice of training camp in Dayton, landing awkwardly after cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick broke up a pass during a 7-on-7 drill. He had surgery and was hopeful of returning before the season’s midpoint.
The Bengals kept him on the active roster, essentially going one man short, as Green did his rehabilitation work. He returned to practice last month but the foot bothered him, forcing him to back off.
Green and the Bengals were hopeful he might play either next Sunday in Miami or in the final game at Paul Brown Stadium against the Cleveland Browns. He changed his mind this week after visiting the doctor who performed the surgery for a checkup.
”It’s unfortunate that it was a very difficult injury that’s hard to come back from,” coach Zac Taylor said. ”At the end of the day, your wishful thinking was that it wasn’t going to be so long-term, but there was really no way of knowing that.”
Green said he doesn’t have full range of motion in the ankle yet.
”I came to the decision it’s best for me just to take this year off, just to get this thing healed so in the long run for the next couple years of my career, I won’t have no problems,” he said.
The Bengals (1-13) are the only NFL team with one win. With one more loss, they would clinch the top pick in the draft, giving them the chance to take Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow or another quarterback.
Green reiterated that he would like to stay in Cincinnati, where he has teamed with Andy Dalton since 2011 to set many of the club’s receiving records. Dalton has one year left on his contract and was benched for three games earlier this season as the Bengals started exploring their long-term quarterback options.
”I really like the thought of A.J. catching balls for us,” Taylor said. ”That’s something that gets me really excited.”
If the Bengals can’t agree on a new deal with Green, they could use their franchise tag on him to keep him for 2020 at $18 million. Green said Wednesday he’d consider that an indication the club doesn’t want him around long-term, so he would have to protect himself by skipping offseason workouts – even if the Bengals were breaking in a new quarterback.
”Every business has to make difficult decisions,” Green said. ”For me, I’m in my own business so I have to make decisions on my end as well.”
NOTES: Right guard John Miller was still in concussion protocol Wednesday. Cornerback Darius Phillips was out with an illness.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL