The Patriots like to move on from a player a year too early instead of doing so a year too late. The Bengals, at this point, seem destined to be moving on from receiver A.J. Green a year too late.
Green, franchise tagged in 2020 with total compensation in excess of $18 million, has disappointed through two weeks. On Thursday night, quarterback Joe Burrow targeted Green 13 times. Green emerged with three catches for 29 yards.
As noted by NFL.com, Green becomes one of only three receivers in the last 10 years to have 13 or more targets and fewer than 30 receiving yards in a single game.
Through two games, Green has 22 targets, eight catches, and 80 yards.
Burrow had a plausible explanation for Green’s limited production.
“They started playing more two-high [safety],” Burrow told reporters after the game. “He was playing well at the beginning of the game. I missed some throws to A.J. again. I am just going to have to fix that. I can’t keep missing throws to A.J. when he gets open like he does.”
That’s fine, but Green had chances to make some of those catches and didn’t.
The broader question is whether the money devoted to Green would have been better spent elsewhere. Come next year, it most likely will be. If Green stays, he’ll likely have to take a lot less than $18 million.