4 potential landing spots for Bengals trade candidate A.J. Green


A.J. Green’s return to the gridiron following a yearlong injury absence (ankle surgery cost him all of 2019) has been one of the NFL season’s biggest disappointments. The six-time 1,000-yard receiver has looked like a shell of his former self, averaging a pedestrian 23.8 yards with no touchdowns through five underwhelming appearances in 2020. Despite ample volume, Green has largely squandered his opportunities, converting just 14 of 34 targets thus far (41.2-percent success rate).

Already disgruntled over his uncertain contract status—Cincinnati retained him on the one-year franchise tag this offseason—Green appeared to mouth “just trade me” to one of his coaches during Sunday’s loss to Baltimore, the Bengals’ third defeat in five games. With Green showing little chemistry with newcomer Joe Burrow, it’s fair to wonder if the seven-time Pro Bowler would fare better elsewhere, perhaps benefiting from a change of scenery after spending the past decade hitting his head against the wall in Cincinnati. With the coaching staff bullish on second-round rookie Tee Higgins (whose build and skill set is eerily similar to Green’s) and slot receiver Tyler Boyd quickly emerging as Burrow’s preferred target, the 32-year-old doesn’t look like he has a long-term future in the Bengals’ organization.

It’s unclear how much, if any, interest Green will draw should the Bengals make him available at the November 3 trade deadline. But here are a handful of receiver-needy squads who could pursue Green at the right price.

Chicago Bears

Outside of the perpetually underappreciated Allen Robinson, the Bears don’t have much in the way of receiving weapons, employing the trio of Robinson, fifth-round rookie Darnell Mooney and slot man Anthony Miller in three-wide sets. Whether an improved pass-catching group would even make a difference with erratic Nick Foles—whose career has been one long rollercoaster—under center is very much up for debate. But if the Bears, who are off to a surprising 4-1 start, want to make a run in the NFC North this year, it wouldn’t hurt to kick the tires on Green, a big body who shares many of the same traits as former Foles favorite Alshon Jeffery. As a likely rental with a proven NFL track record, there are worse bets than Green, especially if he only costs the Bears a late-rounder.

Green Bay Packers

The undefeated Packers have weathered a biblical wave of early-season receiver injuries, losing Allen Lazard to I.R. with Davante Adams also hobbled. Luckily for Green Bay, the influx of moving parts hasn’t had much impact on Aaron Rodgers, who is off to a torrid start with 13 touchdowns and no interceptions on immaculate 70.5-percent passing. Rodgers has made lemonade out of lemons throwing to Robert Tonyan and Marquez Valdes-Scantling while Adams appears to be on the mend after having last week’s bye to rest his ailing hamstring. The Packers may not need to make a splash at receiver—Rodgers has made a career out of elevating the talent around him—but Green could still be in play for them, particularly if Adams shows any signs of fatigue in the coming weeks. Soft-tissue injuries are notoriously easy to aggravate and have a tendency to linger.

New England Patriots

You get the feeling Belichick almost prefers to stock his receiver shelf with unheralded, replacement-level talents just to prove a point. That’s certainly been the case this year with drop-prone Julian Edelman, Panthers castoff Damiere Byrd and sluggish sophomore N’Keal Harry rounding out the Patriots’ top three receivers. New England has leaned heavily on its ground game to this point—only the Browns and Rams have run on a higher percentage of plays—a trend that should continue throughout 2020. My hunch is Belichick won’t have much interest in an aging vet like Green, but we’ve seen New England gamble on receivers before, including last year when the Pats swung a deadline deal for Mohamed Sanu and the year before when they rolled out the red carpet for Josh Gordon. Belichick loves a good reclamation project and Green wouldn’t be the first player to resurrect his career in Foxboro after hitting a rough patch. We know Belichick can get it done without the bells and whistles, but he also knows a good bargain when he sees one. If the Bengals are only seeking a Day-3 pick for Green, why wouldn’t New England pull the trigger?

Philadelphia Eagles

Who needs one of the most decorated receivers of the past decade when you have Travis Fulgham at your disposal? As brilliant as Fulgham has looked the past two weeks, I’m skeptical a former practice-squadder who played his college ball at FCS Old Dominion, will be enough to rescue the Eagles’ broken passing game. Second-round bust JJ Arcega-Whiteside was a wasted pick while Jalen Reagor’s injury-marred rookie season already looks like a lost cause. The once-reliable Zach Ertz has seen his production fall off a cliff (career-low 29 yards per game), which would be an easier pill to swallow if Dallas Goedert (ankle) were healthy. Meanwhile, brittle deep threat DeSean Jackson and rapidly-declining Alshon Jeffery can’t even get on the field for Philadelphia. Green’s NFL tank may be emptying, but with the Eagles’ pass-catching corps on life support, he’d at least give Carson Wentz another downfield option in an otherwise desolate receiving landscape.

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