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No long-term deal for Bengals’ Green

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green carries the ball in for a touchdown during their game against the Baltimore Ravens Thursday, Sept. 13 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Baltimore Ravens 34-23. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green carries the ball in for a touchdown during their game against the Baltimore Ravens Thursday, Sept. 13 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Baltimore Ravens 34-23. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

The deadline for the Cincinnati Bengals to extend A.J. Green to a long-term deal came and went Wednesday, as expected.

Green, who turns 32 this month, has not signed his franchise tender but will likely play on it in 2020. The one-year deal is worth $17.9 million.

NFL teams had until 4 p.m. Wednesday to come to a long-term agreement with their franchise-tagged players, and Green was one of 13 players who were still awaiting new deals going into deadline day. Only he and Jaguars defensive end Yannkick Ngakoue had not signed their tender. The Bengals were hesitant to extend Green after he missed the entire 2019 season because of an ankle injury and was sidelined seven games in 2018 because of a toe injury.

“Of course, I understand,” Green said in December. “It’s $18 million. I’m not sitting out a year. My wife would kill me for that. I wouldn’t sit out, but you have to understand that the franchise tag means you’re not committed to the long term so the offseason workouts, training camp, stuff like that would be questionable.”

It’s still unclear whether Green will participate in training camp, which is set to begin July 28. He wasn’t planning to do offseason workouts with the team, had they held them, and coach Zac Taylor would not confirm in interviews this spring whether Green was participating in the virtual team meetings.

If Green really doesn’t want to risk injury without a long-term deal, there could be a loophole that allows him to sit and still earn his paycheck.

According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, as the NFL and NFL Players Association continue to negotiate terms for a return to work amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the players’ union is seeking opt-out clauses for at-risk players should they decide to sit out this season. Fowler reported the definition of “at-risk” is still being discussed, but a memo the league sent out June 7 listed African Americans as high-risk individuals.

ESPN’s Dan Graziano reported Wednesday the NFL sent a response Tuesday night to the NFLPA’s proposal on reopening protocols and there was no agreement as of Wednesday afternoon.

Taylor has been looking forward to seeing Green on the field in his system, as the wide receiver hadn’t even gotten in one full practice with the new staff last year before suffering an ankle injury on the first day of training camp at the University of Dayton’s Welcome Stadium.

“We want him to be a part of Cincinnati,” Taylor said February at the NFL Combine. “He’s got a great history with the organization. He’s been a great member of the community, a great leader on our team. … I’ve really enjoyed getting to know A.J. I look forward to coaching A.J. really for the first time going into next season.”

Green, a seven-time Pro Bowl pick, doesn’t believe his production will be any different than in the past just because of his recent injuries. The Bengals want to see that, though, and that’s what makes 2020 so important.

“I don’t have to prove anything to nobody,” Green said in December. “… know my worth and what I bring to this team and I know my skill set.”