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The Pros and Cons of Signing A.J. Green in Free Agency

The veteran receiver is reportedly on Baltimore’s radar as free agency nears

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

With the start of free agency being less than a month away, speculation, prediction, and built-up anticipation have been consistent among football fans. With many teams in the NFL in need of filling important spots along their roster, especially in an offseason where the 2021 NFL salary cap is expected to be much lower than last season’s, there could very well be many quality free agents available.

One position in particular is wide receiver; many starting options will be available as an already impressive free agent class of receivers will be expanded once salary cap casualties are considered.

Top free agent receivers include the likes of Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin, Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay, and JuJu Smith-Schuster - all of whom should command strong markets.

By the way the Baltimore Ravens are designed, it may not necessarily be realistic for them to pursue a top receiver in the free agent class. With Baltimore having more than a dozen unrestricted free agents, the front office and coaching staff may be more inclined to use their precious cap space to retain key players and possibly look to sign a cheaper receiver.

Names that have been linked to the Ravens include Corey Davis and A.J. Green. Both players should command less than top dollar (more so Green than Davis) and could be fine additions to a very young Ravens receiving corps.

This article will analyze the benefits and drawbacks of bringing in a player of great caliber who has a decorated track record - A.J. Green.

The pros of signing A.J. Green

  • The Ravens are in need of a successful and bonafide veteran presence among their young receiving corps - Green would add wisdom derived from his experience in the NFL
  • Green wants to win. He’s proclaimed that he would like to play for a contender, likely due to the fact that the Bengals haven’t had a winning season in five years
  • Green could be that reliable and savvy target that Lamar Jackson has been missing for his entire career
  • Less pressure would be put on Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews to constantly make plays in the passing game; defenses would have to respect Green as the third target, which would open up opportunities for Brown and Andrews to get open more easily
  • Green is due for a bounce back season after clearly having a disconnect in chemistry between him and Joe Burrow
  • Green will be cheap; his $16 million franchise tag was clearly a mistake on the part of Cincinnati as Green only compiled 47 catches for 523 yards and two touchdowns after missing the previous season due to injury

The cons of signing A.J. Green

  • Green was among the league’s worst in terms of catch percentage; he couldn't do much with his targets and only caught 45% of intended throws according to Pro Football Reference
  • Green is not the player he was; it’s unclear if his serious ankle injury has anything to do with it, but it’s safe to say that Green was not his usual self during the 2020 season
  • As cap casualties start accumulating, the Ravens may find better and younger options at the WR position on the free agent market
  • I personally feel that Green would not be an ideal fit in the Baltimore offense; more diversification from Greg Roman would be needed to have Green fit well
  • Green may end up being a one-year rental wherever he ends up because of his poor 2020 season, age, and NFL salary cap restrictions

The verdict

With Green’s age and decline in play, I don’t believe that he would fit well in Baltimore’s offense. Green would excel in a more pass-heavy offense like the Green Bay Packers, for example.

I advise that the Ravens go in a different direction and pursue a veteran cap casualty at the wide receiver position or find someone younger that can be inked to a multi-year contract. With Green’s stock being so low at the moment, most teams will be reluctant to sign him for multiple years.

Some believe the Ravens should look to the NFL Draft to address the receiver position. Although the 2021 NFL Draft has an impressive class of receivers, Baltimore’s receiving corps is very young as is, and a veteran presence would be ideal to stimulate development among the younger receivers.

Green could very well fit that role. However, the Ravens would be wise to avoid paying for a receiver past his prime and rather look for a younger option who could stabilize their receiving corps for multiple years.