A.J. Green will have to wait at least another week before making his 2019 season debut. On Monday, Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor announced that the team’s seven-time Pro Bowl receiver will not practice this week and therefore will not be on the field when the Bengals face the Baltimore Ravens on the road this Sunday in an AFC North divisional matchup. Green has yet to play this season after sustaining a left ankle injury during the first day of training camp. Green, who underwent surgery in late July to repair torn ligaments, was able to get rid of his walking boot several weeks ago.
With the 31-year-old Green slated to become a free agent next offseason, and with the Bengals off to an 0-5 start, rumblings have started to grow with regard to the possibility of Cincinnati trading green sometime in the near future. On Sunday, CBS NFL Insider Jason LaCanfora , reporting that, based on conversations he’s had with several NFL general managers, the Bengals will begin fielding calls for a “core of key players in the coming weeks” while naming Green as the “primary target.”
What Cincinnati is both hoping to get in exchange for Green and what teams are willing to trade to acquire him are the two big questions. While Green is one of the NFL’s best seasons when healthy, he has missed 18 games due to injury since the start of the 2016 season. Green’s impending free agency may also scare off teams that may otherwise consider giving up a high draft pick for his services.
If they’re serious about trading him, the Bengals may be forced to play him at least once to show potential trade options that Green is still an upper-echelon receiver that can help a contending team get over the hump. But that would be a risk considering that, if Green re-aggravates the injury, sustains a new injury or just doesn’t play well, that will significantly hinder his trade value.
While Green’s future — from both a health as well and possible trade standpoint — are up in the air, veteran cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick made an open plea to the Bengals’ brass to keep Green in Cincinnati.
“It better not happen. It’s going to fall apart if you do that,” Kirkpatrick said about the possibility of Green being traded, via John Sheeran of SB Nation. “That’s our best player on the team. He’s not even out there. We don’t know how the team really should look. They can’t do that. I’m a team player first. I rally around my guys. That would really hurt my spirit if he walked out this door.”
The Bengals, if they are serious about turning their season around, could certainly use a healthy Green. Cincinnati had to place fellow receiver John Ross on IR shortly following the team’s loss road loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last Monday night. Ross — who will miss at least eight weeks — was enjoying a solid season prior to the injury, as he currently leads the Bengals with three touchdown receptions while being second on the team with 16 catches and 328 yards. Tyler Boyd, a four-year veteran, leads the team with 37 catches for 406 yards, while Auden Tate, a seventh-round pick in the 2018 draft is third on the team with 14 receptions for 140 yards.
Cincinnati is currently an 11.5 point underdog heading into Sunday’s game in Baltimore, according to SportsLine. The Bengals are one of four teams still in search of their first win.