Cardinals’ A.J. Green addition excites J.J. Watt; analytics are less optimistic
A.J. Green will reportedly be signing with the Arizona Cardinals on a one-year deal, a chance for the seven-time Pro Bowler and former Cincinnati Bengal to reset his career.
The 32-year-old is coming off his least-productive season yet, albeit for a team that went 4-11-1 and sputtered with rookie quarterback Joe Burrow before the signal caller got hurt after 10 games.
So naturally, people are skeptical about the 6-foot-4 receiver joining the Cardinals on a prove-it contract.
One person who is not skeptical is fellow offseason signing J.J. Watt, another player who’s out to prove that age is only a number.
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) March 17, 2021
The reported agreement between Arizona and Green also brings up this question: What does this mean for Larry Fitzgerald?
The 17-year pro has yet to decide on his future, although it’s apparent he’s still using this offseason to be concerned about the present.
What does the AJ Green signing mean for future Hall of Fame #AZCardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald? Well… pic.twitter.com/dMNPExjXXn
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 17, 2021
DeAndre Hopkins/AJ Green/Larry Fitzgerald finished 5th/6th/7th in fantasy points scored by wide receivers. In 2015… pic.twitter.com/x83GWFmFKv
— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) March 17, 2021
I realize this isn’t an indication of present value, but it is nonetheless pretty fun to consider Arizona now has three wide receivers on its roster (Larry Fitzgerald, DeAndre Hopkins and AJ Green) with a combined 23 Pro Bowls to their names.
— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) March 17, 2021
AJ Green and Larry Fitzgerald celebrating touchdowns together next year. pic.twitter.com/F659LcxR7a
— Andrew Pasquini (@pasquiniandrew) March 17, 2021
Larry Fitzgerald showing A.J. Green around the Arizona Cardinals facility: pic.twitter.com/1ne0AlIurJ
— Matt Froehlich (@Matt_Fra_) March 17, 2021
Green recorded 523 receiving yards last season for the Bengals, who had a shoddy offensive line and Burrow learning on the job. Then Burrow got hurt and it was Brandon Allen and Ryan Finley throwing to Green and Co.
It’s also important to note that Green missed all of 2019 due to a serious ankle injury and has not made a Pro Bowl since 2017. Granted, that was with relatively better circumstances around him.
Even with all that context, the analytics might side with the old man memes, though.
Oof, I would not want to rely on A.J. Green in 2021. https://t.co/ZhgPKlzNzf
— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) March 17, 2021
From @ESPNStatsInfo: Maybe a new team and different QB will be positive changes, but A.J. Green had the lowest reception pct in 2020 among all qualifying pass catchers at 44% (107 targets/47 Rec). https://t.co/eUz6LRLnOk
— Ed Werder (@WerderEdESPN) March 17, 2021
On the one hand, just 4 of A.J. Green's 24 targets thrown 20+ yards downfield in 2020 were deemed catchable by PFF.
On the other hand, Green was considered open or wide open on just *1* of those targets.
Argument between who was more at fault between Burrow or Green: it was AJG
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) March 17, 2021
The analytics also indicate Green playing opposite DeAndre Hopkins could shift Cardinals receiver Christian Kirk into a more permanent role as a slot man.
A.J. Green signing seems to hint towards Christian Kirk spending more time in the slot. 2019-20 stats for Kirk…
Split Wide: targeted on 10.5% of routes, 0.84 yards/route
In Slot: targeted on 17.2% of routes, 1.09 yards/route
— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) March 17, 2021
And with a new player in the fold comes a second rivalry between a Cardinal and Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey, whom Hopkins already has history with.
Jalen Ramsey vs. A.J. Green x 2 #NFL pic.twitter.com/6awjYel2es
— Matthew (@RealMBB) March 17, 2021