ICYMI: Bengals’ Impending Dilemma with Carlos Dunlap & Michael Johnson

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Dec 30, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson (93) reacts with defensive end Carlos Dunlap (96) during the second half against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals defeated the Ravens 23-17. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

2013 may be the last year that Bengals fans see the tandem of Geno Atkins, Michael Johnson, and Carlos Dunlap on the same defensive line.

The reason? When 2014 comes along, the Bengals are going to have to settle a lot of long-term contracts, and will only have so much money to do it.

Those contracts that will come first will likely be Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. Cincinnati needs to get their franchise players set in stone with the team for the next few years.  And when that’s done, I don’t think it would be wise to let Atkins leave too easily, as Cincinnati will do all they can to keep the star interior lineman.

After all that is said and done, and after Mike Brown has a heart attack upon seeing the damages to his teams’ banking account, there will still be two very important players to consider.  And the team may not be able to keep both of them.

Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson, our two top DE’s.

The chances of keeping them both isn’t looking great, as both players are seeing a rise in stock at the same time.  A rise in stock that works out well for the Bengals because they are getting great pass-rush production.  The negative side is that both players will likely demand lofty long-term contracts following the 2013 season.

If it comes to that, the Bengals will have quite the decision to make.