While they have lost sight of their winning ways over the course of the past couple of years, the Cincinnati Bengals still boast overall a pretty talented roster, and that includes some blue-chip players on both sides of the ball.
When it comes to the defensive side, a couple of their best, along the defensive line, are due for extensions. Defensive end Carlos Dunlap and defensive tackle Geno Atkins are both in the final years of their current contracts, and the Bengals have every intention of making sure that they never play in another uniform.
Atkins and Dunlap have both been Pro-Bowl performers at their respective positions, with the former in particular being among the most dominant 4-3 defensive tackles in the NFL. He and Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey have certainly had their battles over the years.
Dunlap, too, has been a very solid player for the Bengals over the course of his career and has proven more often than not to be a worthy adversary for Marcus Gilbert. Between the four of them, they are all veterans of eight or more seasons at or approaching the age of 30.
And all are entering the final stages of their second contracts, though Pouncey and Gilbert each have two years left and thus will not be due an extension until 2019. Atkins and Dunlap should be receiving deals at some point this summer, and the Bengals have already set the groundwork for those discussions.
“In our football business, you pay for high end talent and Geno has been at the top of our industry for a long time”, Troy Blackburn, the team’s vice president, said that the owners meetings that were held over the weekend. “And we think he can continue to do that and that’s why we’re trying to see what the opportunities are going forward”.
As the Geoff Hobson article from which the above quote is sourced points out, Cincinnati has not ben shy about committing to third contracts with veteran players, citing the likes of Andrew Whitworth and Adam Jones as recent players who signed new deals at the age of 30 or older.
“We always try to do deals that work for the team and the player. These days guys are playing longer than they used to and they take good care of themselves, so we’ll see where things go”, Katie Blackburn said. “We have tried not to do a deal in our minds that would put a lot of dead cap money in there. Geno’s been a good player. He has some good football ahead of him”.
Personally speaking, I’ve always found Atkins and Dunlap to be two of the ‘good guys’ in Cincinnati, players whose game and whose person are easy enough to respect, so I would like to see them remain a part of the Steelers-Bengals rivalry, provided that Pittsburgh continues to field a trench able to repel their advances.