The Cincinnati Bengals are currently 0-5 after a last-second home loss to the Arizona Cardinals last Sunday.
They currently sit 29th in the NFL in terms of points scored, and thus far they’ve been without one of the best receivers in franchise history, A.J. Green, who is still working back from preseason ankle surgery.
There have been rumors that Green could be traded, in part as a means of Cincinnati gaining the draft capital it will need to rebuild the roster under new head coach Zac Taylor.
But if that comes to pass, it might not go over too well with Green’s teammates.
‘That better not happen. Period’
In a piece on The Athletic, Bengals writer Paul Dehner Jr. polled a small group of Cincinnati veterans on the prospect of the team trading Green, the 31-year-old, seven-time Pro Bowler.
Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, the Bengals’ first-round draft pick the year after Green, was blunt in his comments.
“I already know what you are talking about, you are talking about A.J.,” Kirkpatrick said. “Bro, that better not happen. Period. It better not happen.”
Kirkpatrick got more emotional when asked what kind of ripple effect there would be if Green were traded.
“I feel like it’s going to fall apart,” Kirkpatrick said. “You can’t do it. You can’t do it, man. That’s our best player on the team. He’s not even out there. So, we don’t even know what we got, how the team really looks. They can’t do that. They can’t … I’m a team player first, I rally around my guys and that would really hurt my spirit if we see him walk out the door.”
Fellow corner William Jackson III wasn’t as emotional as Kirkpatrick, but also wasn’t in favor.
“I hope not. I don’t think about it, but I hope not,” Jackson said. “We got some great talent on this team and we can win with the guys in the locker room.”
But defensive end Carlos Dunlap, in his 10th season, has seen enough teammates come and go to know that it’s just the NFL way — even franchise icons can be shipped out.
“It happens,” Dunlap said. “Imagine if we had some of these guys on some of these critical football teams around the league still with us. The Andrew Whitworths, guys that have been around in Bengals history and played quality ball for the Bengals forever. End of the day, it’s a business. You got to move on and put new pieces in. I’m Employee 96 right now. In a couple years there will be a new 96. Hopefully more than a couple years.”
It wouldn’t be easy to replace Green, Dunlap said, but it would have to happen.
“The ripple effect would be for guys to step up and try to fill that void. And more guys than one would need to fill that void. Then we’ll have the potential to be an even better football team no matter what position it is,” he said.
Green is the second-leading receiver in Cincinnati history, with 602 catches for 8,907 yards and 63 touchdowns.
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