So much for the term “offseason”, the Bengals certainly have been busy negotiating and offering contracts and extensions. Tyler Eifert, the Bengals first round pick, finally signed on the dotted line on Monday, which means all draft picks have been inked for the 2013 season. Not too surprising since the Bengals wanted to get their rookie class secured before training camp, and the new rookie contracts outlined by the NFL and NFLPA really eliminate holdouts. The more surprising news came when the Bengals announced the extension of defensive end, and 4th year player Carlos Dunlap.
Dunlap, a 2010 2nd rounder from the University of Florida, played just 12 games in his rookie year, but recorded 9.5 sacks, a Bengals record for a rookie, and was one of the highlights of a dismal season. In a rotation style defense, Dunlap has recorded an additional 10.5 sacks since then, and been a dominant presence on the field wreaking havoc on opposing QB’s.
Dunlap also had a fumble return for a touchdown in 2011, late in the 4th quarter vs. Indianapolis in which he showed skills like a nimble punt-returner, putting the Bengals up for good. Most recently, Dunlap returned an interception for a touchdown against Baltimore in the final game of the 2012 regular season. Again, as a rotation guy, Dunlap has carved out a nice career so far with the Cincinnati Bengals, but apparently, Mike Brown and company have bigger plans for the 4th-year man.
Dunlap might be a rotational end, but he signed a contract loaded with starter money, and the implications are there for Dunlap to be a starting defensive end for the Bengals in 2013. Dunlap’s contract is a 6-year deal, worth $40 million, in which he slated to make $18.7 million by training camp next season. Not bad for a guy who was going to make $630,000 in 2013.
The Bengals have made it clear by saying they want Dunlap during the prime of his career. At 24 years old, Dunlap is only 2 years older than the newest Bengal, Tyler Eifert. Eifert’s deal has been reported at 4 years for $8.25 million overall, and a $4.3 million signing bonus. Between Eifert and Dunlap, the Bengals are doing what good franchises do; Secure the future.
The Dunlap extension does have people wondering about Michael Johnson, Geno Atkins, and even A.J. Green, whom are all going to be due a big payday in the near future. Of the two, Atkins and Johnson, it feels like Johnson might be left out if they can’t negotiate a contract after his franchise tender runs out. It has been reported that the Bengals offered Johnson comparable money to Dunlap in which he refused, so, they offered it to Dunlap and he accepted.
Part of this feels like the Mike Wallace/Antonio Brown situation in Pittsburgh last season, but part of it also feels like the Bengals know what they are doing and will make the right calls to get everyone signed.