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A.J. Green Thinks About Possibility Of Retirement

Wide receiver's role has shrunk in second season with Cardinals

Wide receiver A.J. Green makes a catch in Denver earlier this season.
Wide receiver A.J. Green makes a catch in Denver earlier this season.

J.J. Watt isn't the only one who might be playing his final game on Sunday.

Wide receiver A.J. Green acknowledged Thursday he isn't sure if his career might end after this season, although the veteran -- who was the fourth overall pick in 2011, seven slots ahead of Watt -- has given it some thought.

"It's a decision I have to make with my family, but whatever the decision is, I'm at peace with it," Green said. "I feel I've been true to this game my whole career, I did everything the right way, so if it's my time to walk away, I'll be ready."

The Cardinals could end up with a handful of veterans choosing to retire. Offensive linemen Rodney Hudson and Justin Pugh already gave the possibility heavy consideration last offseason. And then there is Watt, of course.

Green sounds like a guy who wouldn't mind staying in the game. But he was adamant he had no desire to move his two young sons to a new school again just to keep playing – the Greens will eventually move back to Georgia, he said – and given where the Cardinals are as a team, it seems unlikely they would extend another one-year offer.

In 2021, Green had 54 catches (on 92 targets) for 848 yards and three touchdowns. His 15.7-yards-per-catch average was his highest mark since his rookie season. The Cardinals brought him back on a second one-year deal.

But Green's numbers, like much of this season's offense, dropped precipitously. He's been targeted 42 times in 14 games, with only 21 receptions for 145 yards and one score. His 6.9 yards per catch is by far the lowest of his career.

"He's been the consummate professional," coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "I can't say enough good things about him. (He was) very productive for us last year. This year for a number of reasons, it wasn't the same type of playing time, but he shows up every day and helps work with those young guys, motivates those young guys and then just does it right.

"He's the type of guy that, if I had a son -- which I probably won't ever have, but if I did -- I would want him to carry himself and treat other people like A.J. does."

With DeAndre Hopkins sitting out the finale, Green figures to get some playing time Sunday against the 49ers. What he'll really miss – which is what most players say – was on display in the locker room Thursday as he played four-square with a number of teammates during their post-practice downtime.

"There is nothing like an NFL locker room," he said.

He won't miss all the running – "There are a lot of miles on these knees" – but he still waiting to see what he decides to do.

His older son is now just getting into flag football, is a big fan of Cooper Kupp, and has been known to tell Green, "Dad, you didn't have any catches this game." Green will respond, "Go watch my highlights."

And there are plenty – six 1,000-yard seasons, 724 receptions for 10,423 yards and 69 touchdowns over 12 seasons – for Green to remember.

If this is it, that's OK with him.

"You know me, I'm very low-key,' Green said. "This game has been good to me, man. So if this is my last one, I'll enjoy it, and then move on to the next chapter of my life."

Images of the Cardinals practicing at the Dignity Health Sports Complex before the Week 18 regular season matchup against the San Francisco 49ers

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