Aug 24, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Cincinnati Bengals strong safety George Iloka (43) works out prior to the game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Just five days ago, A.J. Green signed a huge contract and became the league’s second-highest paid receiver in the NFL in terms of yearly salary before the Bengals got on a plane and flew to Oakland for a Week 1 game that ended up being a total annihilation of the Raiders. But some news that wasn’t as heavily emphasized was that Bengals safety George Iloka has elected to bet on himself and play out the final year of his rookie deal before becoming an unrestricted free agent in the 2016 offseason.
Nov 2, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals strong safety George Iloka (43) catches the ball for an interception in the end zone during the second half against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 33-23. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
When Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer broke news of the A.J. Green deal, he quickly released another piece, mentioning that Iloka, along with Kevin Zeitler, Dre Kirkpatrick and Marvin Jones won’t be receiving a new deal. Iloka seemed hesitant to sign a new deal because he think’s he’ll perform even better in 2015–a very real possibility.
In regards to players like Kirkpatrick and Jones, who have struggled to stay healthy throughout their NFL careers, the Bengals could be too nervous about the possibility of potential injury re-aggrivatoins to lock up these guys long-term. Regardless, the season is now underway, so these players will have to wait until the end of the 2015 season to sign long-term extensions with Cincinnati–and while this has the potential to work out for the Bengals, it could also end up biting them in the butt.
Iloka is one of the NFL’s best safeties and is the leader of a young and exciting Bengals secondary that could be one of the NFL’s best in 2015. Iloka, his agent and the Bengals organization all know this–and if Iloka improves on his already impressive NFL progress, his asking price could skyrocket.
The price tags on Zeitler, Kirkpatrick and Jones, in addition, all have the potential to skyrocket.
Zeitler is slowly becoming one of the NFL’s most dominant offensive guards, Kirkpatrick will have the chance to prove his worth in his first season as a starting corner and Marvin Jones will benefit from Tyler Eifert‘s emergence as a threat in the passing game, receiving less attention from opposing defenses.
While waiting to sign these players could end up costing the Bengals a ton of money, Cincinnati has to be happy about the talent on its roster. And despite the long list of pending free agents, the Bengals will without a doubt re-sign all four of these players and more if they perform well enough to warrant an extension.
At the end of the day, the Bengals have the money to re-sign most–if not all–of their upcoming free agents; they just don’t want to spend it.