Does George Iloka Deserve A Long-Term Extension?
Since coming into the league, George Iloka has been a very good player and a great selection by the Cincinnati Bengals’ front office. The Bengals drafted Iloka (Boise State) in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL draft. Although he was relegated to the bench in his rookie season, he rose to the occasion and became the starter the last two seasons.
Dec 21, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Seattle Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor (31) and safety Earl Thomas (29) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Seahawks defeated the Cardinals 35-6. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Iloka is easily one of the best up and coming safeties and it won’t be long before he is one of the best safeties in the league. In 2014, he racked up 74 combined tackles, 10 passes defended and three interceptions while his partner in crime, Reggie Nelson, accounted for 95 combined tackles, 13 passes defended and four interceptions.
To compare, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor (one of the top safety duos) didn’t have that much of a different season. Thomas racked up 97 combined tackles, five pass defense and one interception, while Chancellor racked up 78 combined tackles, six pass defense and one interception.
George Iloka and Reggie Nelson are two of the most underrated safeties in the league. They hold their own when juxtaposed to the top safety duo in the league, and for this reason alone Iloka should be in for a big payday. He has yet to hit his prime and with another good season under his belt (the last year of his rookie deal) he will certainly be ready to cash in.
The real question is will he be able to? At the end of the 2015 season, Cincinnati will be trying to re-sign a plethora of free agents. These players aren’t just backups; they include big name players such as A.J. Green, Leon Hall, Andre Smith, Andrew Whitworth, Reggie Nelson, Vincent Rey, Adam Jones, Emmanuel Lamur, Mohamed Sanu, Marvin Jones and Iloka himself, just to name a few.
Although, Andre Smith is most likely not returning after this season, A.J. Green will demand a big pay day, in the secondary Reggie Nelson, Adam Jones and Leon Hall all deserve another contract, and Whitworth is a Cincinnati great and still has “gas left in the tank.” Also, Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu and Vincent Rey are vital to Cincinnati’s success, therefore should be retained. Giving George Iloka the massive contract he deserves may not be in the best interest of Cincinnati considering all the players who will require new deals.
After Green, Iloka should be next in line for a contract extension. I believe it will be around the same type of deal Reggie Nelson signed three years ago: a four-year, $18 million team-friendly deal. With Marvin Lewis getting one more year to coach the Cincinnati Bengals, his approach to free agency will be the same, re-sign his own! It should start with A.J. Green, but immediately follow with George Iloka.