Weighing the Potential for Greatness

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It is very easy to understand the high pitched tenor that has been reverberating through the throngs of Bengaldom these past few months of the off-season.  Indeed, this feeling of impending success is intoxicating considering that a significant demographic within the fan base has been suffering without it for going on two decades or more.  It’s hard to even contemplate things going awry next season amid this quiet, unheralded surge of momentum for the franchise…

…but then a 300 lbs defensive lineman low-tackles your quarterback, tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament, and effectively ends what may have been a run at the Super Bowl.  These things happen.

December 9, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) throws a shovel pass as he is tackled by Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins (97) at Paul Brown Stadium. Dallas won the game 20-19. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

This is not a discussion about the Bengals 2005 season nor is this a rehashing of the “Kimo-Clause” for quarterback safety.  This is an allegory that seasons must be played out in order for potential success to become transcribed into the history books as prominence.  Until then, the hype becomes a manifestation of paying-it-forward based on statistical analysis at best or gut-feelings at worst.  Hope is one thing, but one should never pay for ‘hope’, and if they do, it should come at a discount.  Therein is the counter argument to the anxious stress-dervish surrounding the expiring contracts of Carlos Dunlap, Michael Johnson and Geno Atkins.

The Bengals have made attempted offers to all three of these individuals, and justly, the righteous nature of average orange sports blogger has responded with historical citations of the Brown family’s miserly nature.  Quotes remarking that the team and players are, “…miles apart…” in contract talks are likely accurate, but also noteworthy that no real figures are being released.

Considering that Atkins is the only elite player on the roster who’s contract will expire by the end of the 2013 season, he is naturally the frontrunner for next year’s franchise tag.  Approached from the idea that contractually Atkins will be on the team through 2014 without question, why pay for theoretics now?  The reality is that the contract offered probably looked similar to 5-year, $35M to $45M with significant escalators and amounts of guaranteed money; sums comparable to the current franchise tag of just under $9M for a defensive tackle.

Undoubtedly this is a long way from a contract like Baltimore Ravens Haloti Ngata’s 5-year, $61M contract, in which $40M was doled out in the first two years.

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