Joe Burrow Tells the Cincinnati Bengals He Wants Them to Keep A.J. Green

The NFL draft may still be over a month away, but Joe Burrow is reportedly already making his presence felt in Cincinnati.

The Bengals hold the first overall pick and are widely expected to use it on the former LSU quarterback, who set college football alight last season.

According to NBC's Peter King, Burrow "made clear" to the franchise he wanted them to retain wide receiver A.J. Green this offseason when he spoke to Bengals representatives at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis last week.

The 23-year-old, who this season became only the 16th player in history to win both the national title and the Heisman Trophy in the same year, suggested he was keen to be able to count on the support of an experienced receiver such as Green.

"I think with any rookie quarterback, the more help you can get, the better, and A.J.'s been one of the best players at his position for a very long time," Burrow said.

Green is set to become a free agent this month but ESPN reported on Sunday night that the Bengals were planning to use the franchise tag on the 32-year-old.

As per estimates, the franchise tag for wide receivers is set to be worth in the region of $18.5 million this season.

In December last year, Green ruled out taking part in organized team activities in training camp if the Bengals decided to use the franchise tag on him.

"The franchise tag is not the best thing," the seven-time Pro Bowl selection said in January, during an interview with Cincinnati NBC-affiliate WLWT.

"But like I said, I'm not turning down $18 million. It just happens. When you run a business, you have to make difficult decisions.

"But I feel like when you put that on me, then that's what you're showing me, you only want me for one year. And I always play with a chip on my shoulder."

Since being selected with the fourth overall pick by the Bengals in the 2011 draft, Green has accumulated 8,907 receiving yards—the second-highest figure in Cincinnati's history and the fourth-highest of all NFL players since he entered the league.

The former Georgia alumnus also ranks second in franchise history in total receptions and receiving touchdowns with 602 and 63 respectively.

The South Carolina native, however, has been hampered by injuries in recent years. Green has missed a combined 29 games since 2016 and sat out the entirety of last season after tearing his left ankle ligaments in the first practice session of training camp.

Despite his injury record, Bengals general manager Doug Tobin insisted the 32-year-old was very much part of the franchise's future.

"He's an important guy, and he's done it the right way," he explained, while speaking about Green the at the NFL Scouting Combine last week.

"We view him as a Bengal and want him around and want him to be part of the future."

While the Bengals are widely expected to make Burrow the first overall pick of the draft, rumors surrounding the quarterback's future have proved an unwelcome source of distraction for him and Cincinnati.

In February, Burrow suggested he had "leverage," adding a lot of "things happen in the lead-up to the draft".

Last week, however, the Heisman Trophy winner clarified his comment, suggesting he would play football for whichever team selects him next month.

"I mean I'm not going to not play," Burrow said at the NFL Combine. "I'm a ballplayer. Whoever picks me, I'm going to go show up."

Joe Burrow, NFL Combine
LSU quarterback Joe Burrow interviews during the first day of the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 25 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Alika Jenner/Getty