How Much Is A.J. Green Worth in Today’s NFL?

CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 28:  A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals takes the field for the game against the Tampa Bay Bucccaneers at Paul Brown Stadium on October 28, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals defeated the Buccaneers 37-34.  (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)

John Grieshop/Getty Images

It’s a good time to be an elite wide receiver in the National Football League.

Last August, Odell Beckham Jr. inked a five-year, $90 million extension with the New York Giants that included almost $41 million guaranteed at signing. After a trade sent him from the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Oakland Raiders, Antonio Brown received a three-year, $50.1 million extension with just over $30 million in guarantees. Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman reported the Atlanta Falcons are in talks with Julio Jones on an extension worth $20 million per season.

Another high-end pass-catcher is entering a contract year—a receiver who, at his best, is on par with the likes of Beckham, Brown and Jones. But after two injury-marred seasons in the past three years, it’s fair to wonder just how much A.J. Green is worth and whether the Cincinnati Bengals are willing to pay it.

As Fletcher Page reported for the Cincinnati Enquirer, Bengals owner Mike Brown said his organization is more than willing to give Green, the fourth overall pick of the 2011 draft, a third contract with the team—provided the price is right:

“Oh, I think he’s a proven commodity, isn’t he? The price range for him will be something we can figure out, will come together.

“It’s true with anyone, if they suddenly get an injury that it reduces them. Well that changes the equation, but I never plan on that happening. I like to think that won’t happen. If A.J. is healthy, he’s as good a receiver as anybody in the league.”

Therein lies the rub.

Frank Victores/Associated Press

Brown is absolutely right.

When healthy, Green is as good a receiver as you’ll find throughout the NFL. In eight seasons, he’s topped 1,000 yards six times, including his first five years in the league. He’s hit or surpassed the 10-touchdown mark three times. Seven of his seasons have ended with a trip to the Pro Bowl, and he was named a second-team All-Pro in 2012 and 2013.

Green’s 80.2 career receiving yards per game do rank last among the four receivers already mentioned in this article.

But to be fair, Brown played with a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger, Jones caught passes from an NFL MVP in Matt Ryan and Beckham reeled in throws from a two-time Super Bowl MVP in Eli Manning. Green has spent his career with a good but hardly great signal-caller in Andy Dalton.

However, he more than holds his own when looking at career yards per reception:

  1. Julio Jones: 15.4
  2. A.J. Green: 14.8
  3. Odell Beckham Jr.: 14.0
  4. Antonio Brown: 13.4

Green, Beckham and Jones are the only three active players averaging at least 14 yards per reception and 80 receiving yards per game, which might make Cincinnati feel better about a decision to pay him. The Bengals receiver also made it clear, per the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Paul Dehner, that he’d prefer to remain in the Queen City for the remainder of his career:

“My goal when I got drafted was to always stay in one place the whole time. No matter what the situation was. I want to win, I want to bring something to this city. I don’t want to be like, ‘Oh, A.J. left because he wasn’t winning.’ It’s not about football, that’s just who I am to stay loyal to whoever gave me an opportunity.”

So we have an elite player who wants to stay with his team. No problem, right?

Actually, a large one might exist.

The “when healthy” caveat around which we’ve danced has become a significant one in recent seasons. In 2016, a hamstring tear limited him to just 10 appearances. Last year, he lost almost half the season to torn ligaments in his toe.

Frank Victores/Associated Press

That’s quite the potential bump in the road for a player who turns 31 this summer. In fact, he’s three weeks to the day older than Brown. Jones is a bit younger; he won’t celebrate his 31st birthday until the day after Super Bowl LIV.

Still, given the similarities in age and production, Brown’s recent contract (three years, $51 million) and the reported upcoming deal for Jones (potentially five years, $100 million, per Freeman) offer an idea of the two directions the Bengals could go.

The first is the Brown route: a short-term deal with an average annual value around $18 million. (That’s slightly more than the new Raiders wideout received because these contracts feature constant games of one-upmanship.)

The trade-off would be guaranteeing a larger percentage of the overall contract. In Brown’s case, per Spotrac, the guarantee comprised 60 percent of the deal’s total value. Given that Green has been a model player throughout his career and not the problem child Brown has been of late, that percentage would all but certainly be substantially higher.

But those injuries that have plagued Green would force the Bengals to assume risk. If they continue to be problematic, Cincinnati could be on the hook with millions of dollars in wasted cap space. 

That leads to the Jones road, which would see the Georgia product earn a whopper of a deal. Perhaps he could even join Larry Fitzgerald and a hypothetical Jones—remember, that contract isn’t yet signed—in the $100 million club

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

The upside is that an out could be worked into the pact—an insurance policy of sorts that could be exercised should injuries continue to plague Green.

We know with near certainty that something will get worked out between the Bengals and their star receiver. The team has a history of locking up its own, whether it’s Carlos Dunlap or Geno Atkins. A pretty strong argument can be made that Green is the best pick Brown has made since taking over as team owner in 1991.

We also know that whether it’s a short-term deal with a hefty percentage guaranteed or a long-term deal with a built-in escape hatch, Green’s extension will be massive. The floor is around $17 million annually. The ceiling rises over $20 million.

Most importantly, we know Green is worth it…so long as he stays healthy.

     

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Comedian secures comfortable first-round win in Ukraine’s presidential elections

A comedy actor with no political experience has thrashed the incumbent in the first round of Ukraine’s presidential elections, according to exit polls.

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Volodymyr Zelensky, who plays a fictional president in a popular TV show, secured 30.4 percent of the vote on Sunday, early results showed. Petro Poroshenko, a billionaire magnate and Ukraine’s current leader, received 17.8 percent.

With no-one expected to secure a majority when the final results are confirmed later on Monday, the two largely pro-EU candidates are set to go head-to-head in a run-off vote on April 21.

“If I win, we will (have) a strong democratic Ukraine — without corruption,” Zelensky told CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick in Kiev on Sunday.

“This is the biggest problem,” Zelensky said, when asked whether fighting corruption would be a priority under his leadership.

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Shares in Shenzhen pop as Chinese economic activity sees unexpected bounce

NANJING, CHINA - DECEMBER 03: An investor watches the electronic board at a stock exchange hall on December 3, 2018 in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province of China.

VCG | Visual China Group | Getty Images

NANJING, CHINA – DECEMBER 03: An investor watches the electronic board at a stock exchange hall on December 3, 2018 in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province of China.

Stocks in Shenzhen surged during Thursday trade after a series of data released on Sunday and Monday showed Chinese economic activity bouncing unexpectedly in March.

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By the morning session’s end, the Shenzhen component jumped 3.13 percent and the Shenzhen composite soared 3.027 percent. The CSI 300, which tracks the largest stocks listed on the mainland, advanced 2.31 percent.

The moves came after both the private Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index and the official Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for March expanded unexpectedly, surprising analysts.

The Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) came in at 50.8 for March. Analysts had expected it to come in at 49.9 for a second month, according to a Reuters poll of economists. A reading below 50 signals contraction, while a reading above that level indicates expansion.

That came on the back of Sunday’s release of the official PMI in China, which rose to 50.5 in March from February’s three-year low of 49.2. It marked the first expansion in four months, according to data released by China’s National Bureau of Statistics.

“Our view is the impact of policy easing is gradually kicking in, pushing up sequential growth indicators such as PMI first,” economists from Bank of America-Merrill Lynch said in a note.

In particular, they said, the “larger-than-expected tax/fee cuts and improving financial conditions” likely provided a boost to business sentiment in the country’s manufacturing space. Furthermore, demand for industrial restocking could also have risen as commodity and raw material prices experienced a rebound.

“I think this is indeed a good number,” Tan Min Lan, head of the Asia-Pacific chief investment office at UBS Wealth Management, told CNBC’s “Street Signs” on Monday.

“It is a critical number because recall that a couple of weeks back one of the key concern(s) of the market is that when factories shut during the Chinese New Year period, they may not (reopen) if orders do not materialize,” she said. “I think this set of data, it’s critical, it’s important because it suggests that production did not fall over the cliff and that the fears over industrial deflation and the fears over an unemployment surge may have been overplayed.”

The manufacturing numbers come amid ongoing tariff talks between the U.S. and China aimed at resolving their trade differences. High-level trade negotiations between the two economic powerhouses are set to resume in Washington this week following last week’s talks in Beijing.

— CNBC’s Huileng Tan and Reuters contributed to this report.

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This CEO explains how the hottest trend in software development helped his startup take off and raise $50 million in new funding

It’s taken a while, but Sauce Labs may finally be right where it wants to be.

The San Francisco startup offers a cloud-based service that allows developers to automatically test their web and mobile applications for bugs. It specializes in offering programmers the chance to test their applications on multiple simulated devices or browsers at once, allowing them to markedly speed up the process of development.

The company, which has about 300 employees and development teams in Berlin and Warsaw, announced last that it’s secured $50 million in new, late-stage venture funding from Riverwood Capital. The new company’s new funds came with a valuation north of $380 million, or more than double what it was in 2016 when Sauce Labs last raised capital.

The company launched 10 years ago, but it didn’t really take off until an industry-wide shift in app development took root, said Charles Ramsey, Sauce Labs’s CEO. But now that it has, business is booming, he said.

“The market is changing rapidly, to our advantage,” he said.

Sauce Labs is benefitting from an Agile approach

In recent years, a growing number of companies have embraced so-called Agile software development. In Agile, big software projects are divided up into discrete chunks. Small teams typically work on those different pieces of the projects in parallel and by iterating on them repeatedly. The process usually allows organizations to develop software faster than with older methods, in which development is generally done sequentially and only after each step is completed, and allows them to more rapidly fix problems and introduce new features.

One of the things that can delay Agile development, though, is testing each new feature in and iteration of an app, Ramsey said. In the past, testing was a largely manual process, requiring actual human beings — whether volunteers or paid employees — to try out apps and features, he said. That can be a slow, potentially expensive or logistically challenging, and often incomplete; it’s often hard to test all of an app’s features in a set amount of time.

Read this:$25 billion Atlassian is releasing a new tool to help developers release code faster as it takes on GitHub

That’s where Sauce Labs’ service comes in. By offering automated testing and allowing organizations to tap into multiple simulators simultaneously, its service can quicken the process and allow it to be more comprehensive.

“Testing is a constraint to really great Agile development,” Ramsey said, “and so we’re getting a lot of attention.”

It has more offerings in the works

Sauce Labs’ service, which it offers as a subscription, allows organizations to test their apps to make sure they work across different operating systems, browsers, and devices. In addition to its simulators and emulators, it also offers a service that allows organizations near the end of the development process to try out their apps on actual devices via manual testing.

And the company, whose offerings have already become popular in the financial services, health care, and media industries, is planning to offer an even more comprehensive service, Ramsey said. It’s developing a feature that would allow programmers to test out small snippets of code. The feature reflects how the development environment continues to evolve as more organizations are embracing Agile, he said. Those organizations are wanting to test their code more often and earlier in the development process, he said.

Sauce Labs plans to continue to add on to its offerings, including through an acquisition that Ramsey said is imminent but declined to discuss. It should have the opportunity to do so, thanks to this newest round of funding.

“We want people to be able to test at every step of the development process with the appropriate tool,” Ramsey said.

Got a tip about a startup or other tech company? Contact this reporter via email at twolverton@businessinsider.com, message him on Twitter @troywolv, or send him a secure message through Signal at 415.515.5594. You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.

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Report: Knicks Told Mavs of Extortion, Not Kristaps Porzingis Rape Allegation

Dallas Mavericks forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, March 14, 2019, in Denver. The Nuggets won 100-99. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Kristaps Porzingis has been accused of assaulting and raping a woman while a member of the New York Knicks last year, and the Dallas Mavericks reportedly didn’t know the extent of the allegations before trading for him in January.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski previously reported the Knicks informed the Mavericks of the pending rape allegation while finalizing the trade, but two league sources have contradicted that report.

“The word that was used was ‘extortion,’” a source told Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News.

“The word ‘rape’ was never used, only ‘extortion,’” another source added.

According to Tina Moore of the New York Post, the woman reportedly said she discussed a $68,000 hush-money payment from Porzingis but went to the police after not getting paid.

The player’s attorney, Roland G. Riopelle, denied the allegations and said federal law enforcement and the NBA were alerted in December “based on the accuser’s extortionate demands,” per ESPN.com.

“We have been instructed by federal authorities not to comment,” Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said of the accusations, per Moore.

Porzingis has yet to play for Dallas as he recovers from a torn ACL suffered in February 2018.

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Wall Street is fixated on the yield curve — but one market bear warns a more ominous threat is set to tip the economy into the ‘ice age’

Not everyone is convinced that an inverted yield curve is the final shoe to drop before the next recession.

The 10-year Treasury yield recently fell below the three-month yield, indicating that bond traders found good reason to be worried about growth and expected short-term interest rates to fall. Similar inversions have preceded every US recession since the 1950s.

Albert Edwards, a strategist at Societe Generale who is well known for his bearish views, is surprisingly among those who aren’t taking this recession signal at face value.

But he has a different flavor of skepticism — one that illuminates a separate market dynamic that predates the inversion, and one he says is powerful enough to tip the economy into recession.

“Being the simple, unsophisticated soul that I am, all I believe the inversion of the yield curve tells us is that the Fed has raised interest rates considerably,” Edwards said in a note to clients.

Read more: Stocks just traded like they do right before recessions begin — and one of Wall Street’s biggest bulls warns a ‘big test’ of the worst-case scenario could fail

He’s by no means belittling the track record of yield-curve inversions, especially of the more notorious gap between 2- and 10-year yields. Instead, he’s highlighting the Fed’s role in causing the inversion and what may happen next.

Since 2015, the Fed has raised its target for short-term interest rates from 0.25% to 2.5%. However, this 225-basis-point increase on its face does not account for the impact of quantitative easing combined with zero interest rates, Edwards said.

A so-called Wu-Xia shadow rate compensates for this omission by factoring in the Fed’s unprecedented stimulus. This shadow rate — combining the Fed’s effective rate with the impact of its QE — fell below zero post-crisis, Edwards said.

The suspension of QE has had the opposite effect of lifting the shadow rate, Edwards said. Tacking this shadow rate on top of increases in the effective fed funds rate, he found that the overall increase in borrowing costs has been considerably more aggressive than meets the eye. He calculated a combined interest-rate move from -3.0% to 2.5%, not simply 0.25% to 2.5%, when factoring in the shadow rate.

Historically, this degree of tightening has been more than enough to tip the economy into recession, he says.

Societe Generale

For Edwards, the yield-curve inversion confirmed that the ‘Ice Age’ he has predicted since 1996 may be on its way. His theory is that a downward spiral of deflation in the US and Europe will trigger a massive rush into the safety of bonds at the expense of stocks, which he expects to crash. He uses Japan’s economic stagnation in the 1990s and its economy’s eventual collapse into deflation as the template.

Such bearish views are characteristic of Edwards. But he’s far from the only strategist on Wall Street who’s concerned about what else the yield curve is illuminating.

Michael Feroli, the chief economist at JPMorgan, is in agreement that the inverted yield curve is a cautionary sign.

As a counterpoint, he said in a client note that the Fed’s unprecedented stimulus after the crisis reduced the efficacy of the yield curve as a recession signal. But this doesn’t mean the inverted curve should be ignored.

“Although a straight read of the yield curve’s correlation with past recessions suggests somewhat higher risks than we currently see elsewhere in the data, there is enough uncertainty around other potential interpretations that we must take the inversion as a cautionary sign,” Feroli said.

One such interpretation is that investors expect the Fed to fully capitulate and cut rates— an event that has also served as a recession signal in the past.

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We asked more than 1,800 young people what they think is the biggest issue facing America, and the most popular answer was Trump

Editor’s note: Business Insider surveyed 1,884 young Americans about their buying attitudes and beliefs. This is part of a series of stories that will be rolled out over the next several weeks.

Donald Trump Jr. tried to woo the youth during a rally in February, encouraging young conservatives not to let themselves “be indoctrinated by these loser teachers that are trying to sell you on socialism from birth.”

But, according to Business Insider’s recent survey of 1,884 young people, much of Generation Z isn’t having it. In fact, many of the respondents listed US President Donald Trump when asked to identify “the most important issue facing the country right now.”

Participants in the survey were all Americans between the age of 13 and 21. The national poll was conducted with SurveyMonkey Audience partner Cint on behalf of Business Insider. It ran from January 11 through January 14. Out of those participants, 1,559 young people answered the question about the biggest issue facing the country, while 325 opted to skip it.

All in all, a total of 295 young people indicated that Trump was the biggest problem facing the nation. That’s just over 18% of the individuals who answered the write-in question, but it was by far the most popular response.

Read more: These are the brands that Gen Z shops at most, according to a survey of more than 1,800 young Americans

Even the second and third most popular answers were closely connected to the president’s actions. The runner-up response was “the government shutdown,” which proved to be the most important issue for 183 respondents. And issues surrounding Trump’s proposed border wall were significant for 123 young people.

What’s more, many of the participants were scathing in their comments about Trump.

“Trump thinks he can do whatever he wants and doesn’t care about who he hurts,” one young person wrote in their response.

Another respondent accused Trump of being “a selfish president who blackmails the country in order to get his way.”

Other adjectives bandied about were “stupid,” “disgusting, and “incompetent,” while a different person accused Trump of “caging up literal children.”

But the responses included a few pro-Trump outliers. Out of the 295 responses mentioning Trump or “the president” more generally, two appeared to take more of an issue with Trump’s detractors.

One participant wrote that “people not supporting the president” was the biggest issue in the US today, while another agreed that the fact that “people don’t like our president” was a significant problem.

The results of the survey aren’t exactly surprising, considering Trump’s relative unpopularity with young people. In January 2019, the Pew Research Center found that only 30% of Generation Z approves of the president’s performance, significantly lower than his overall approval rating.

Of course, Trump does have some support among younger generations, as evidenced by the thousands of young attendees at the pro-Trump Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit this year.

But, on whole, the numbers might give pause to politicians of the Trumpian strain as Generation Z continues to reach the voting age.

Correction: An earlier version of this article said that 5% of respondents listed Trump as the biggest issue facing the US.

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