A.J. Green first thought Calvin Johnson was joking about retirement

CINCINNATI -- Since entering the NFL, A.J. Green has made Atlanta his offseason home.

While there in the spring and summer months, the former University of Georgia star trained with Calvin Johnson, a Georgia Tech legend who grew up in the city's metropolitan area. They regularly worked out together at Tech and discussed the technical ins and outs of being elite NFL receivers.

When Johnson, holder of multiple Detroit Lions receiving records, first started broaching the topic of retirement with Green, the Cincinnati Bengals wideout had trouble taking Johnson seriously.

"He said he could play the game, but getting through the week is the tough part," Green said. "He said three years ago, 'A.J., I've got two more years. I've like two, three years and then I'm out of here after I've got nine [seasons].' I thought he was just playing."

No, he really wasn't.

Johnson retired from football this offseason, capping at age 30 a nine-year career in which he caught 731 passes for 11,619 yards and 83 touchdowns. Hall of Famer? Quite possibly.

While Green, who turns 28 on Sunday, respects the decision his friend made, don't expect him to follow in Johnson's footsteps. If his body lets him, Green plans to play into his mid-30s.

"He's a big guy. His body takes a lot of pounding," Green, who plays at 207 pounds, said of Johnson. "I feel like I'm more of a slim guy. My knees don't have that much wear and tear. He used to take big hits, cheap shots. The way he hit the ground all the time -- that's a big body at 230 [pounds] slamming down. I think my body is set up differently. I'll be fine. I want to get at least 12 [seasons]."

Green agreed last fall to a four-year contract extension that would keep him in Bengals stripes through the 2019 season. The end of that deal would conclude his ninth season, and it would fall after his 31st birthday. Ideally, he'd like to see at least one more two-year deal to cap his career.

"If I can't do it, I'm just going to walk away," Green said. "I'll be gone. Eleven will be fine if my body's not holding up. Eleven would be great. My goal is 12 to 15 [years total]. We'll see."

As he enters his sixth season, Green says he's among a quintet of NFL receivers who could be next in line to claim Johnson's unofficial "best receiver in the NFL" title.

"Julio [Jones], Antonio Brown, Odell [Beckham Jr.], [DeAndre] Hopkins," Green said. "That's five."

But of that list, who's the best?

"I'll let you all debate that one," Green said to reporters, smiling.