CINCINNATI -- The past few weeks have been some of the most difficult of Cincinnati Bengals receiver A.J. Green's professional career, excluding the several weeks last season when he dealt with a nagging toe injury.
The injury ordeal was something totally different from this situation.
While the rest of the NFL's top-tier receivers who needed new contracts got them this summer, Green sat idly by wishing them well as he awaited the fate of his own massive contract extension. Before it came Friday, there was a time when he was on edge. The uncertainty about the process even led him to believe it might not get done until after the season. That worried him a bit.
So, to keep calm, he turned to one of his former college teammates who went through his own contract saga not so long ago.
"One of my best friends is Justin Houston," Green said at a post-extension news conference Friday.
The Kansas City Chiefs' outside linebacker who had more sacks last season (22) than the whole Bengals' defense combined (20), signed in July a six-year deal worth $101 million. It included $52.5 million guaranteed. It's the richest contract in Chiefs' history, and the biggest for a linebacker in NFL history.
Houston's contract came the same week as deals inked by Dallas receiver Dez Bryant and Denver wideout Demaryius Thomas. Both had new contracts worth $70 million. Green's deal reportedly will be in that same ballpark after he earns more than $10 million in 2015 as he accepts his pre-arranged franchise-tag tender for the season.
Green said he talked to Houston earlier in the week in order to keep his wits while waiting on the four-year extension worth reportedly $60 million (after 2015) to become official.
"I talked to [Houston] the other day about how he handled it," Green said. "He kept me focused and he was telling me, 'A.J., you got money in the bank [due to the franchise tag]. I didn't have anything and I had to go through the same thing.' By talking to him and keeping my focus with him always telling me not to worry about it and to just go out there and play and do what I do, it really helped."
Houston and Green both played at Georgia before being drafted respectively by the Chiefs and Bengals in 2011. Green was the fourth overall pick while Houston was a third-round selection.