Bengals importance of signing Atkins immediately

CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 8: Tyrod Taylor /

The Cincinnati Bengals have a decision to make with defensive tackle Geno Atkins coming up and the market could change before he signs an extension.

The Cincinnati Bengals have defensive tackle Geno Atkins on the books for one more year under his current contract. Atkins is set to make a total $9,550,000 in 2018 and the team would like to get an extension done with the two time All-Pro before the season begins. Considering some of the names that could be extended or signed to new teams in free agency this offseason the team should move quickly on a deal.

Defensive tackle Aaron Donald for the Los Angeles Rams will most likely receive an extension this offseason and it won’t come cheap. Donald was named the defensive player of the year in 2017 after matching a career-best 11 sacks and also hauling in 41 tackles. Once again, Donald is seeking to become the highest paid player at his position.

The defensive player of the year held out last preseason and missed the opener. Heading into the fifth year of his rookie deal, Donald is set to make $6.89 million in 2018 but instead wants to become one of the highest paid players at any position, including quarterback.

Another elite defensive tackle that hit the market is Ndamukong Suh. In his final season with the Miami Dolphins, Suh racked up 4.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 48 tackles. The Dolphins released the 6’4″, 305-pound defensive tackle three years after signing a $114 million contract. By cutting Suh, Miami saves $17 million in cap space while carrying over $9.1 million in dead money. Suh will likely make anywhere from $12 million to $17 million a year with his new team in 2018.

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Ranking number 3 on the NFL’s top 101 free agents in 2018, the five-time Pro Bowler will have plenty of teams interested as he is set to meet with the New Orleans Saints on Friday. Suh, 31, has yet to slow down his production and the three-time All-Pro will earn another massive payday in 2018.

Both of these elite talents could set the market for the rest of the league. Donald and Suh’s new contracts could raise the bar on paying elite defensive line talent. If the Bengals want any chance of signing either Atkins or defensive end Carlos Dunlap to extensions this offseason, they should put their foot down on the accelerator and get it done before these two contracts happen.

Atkins and Dunlap have been very consistent at getting after the quarterback even in their later years with the franchise. Not only have they been consistent in sacks, but neither player has missed a single game in the past four seasons with the Bengals. Their consistent talent and play time will earn them another big payday.

If the Bengals cannot lock down both players or even one of them this offseason, it’s likely the defensive powerhouses could walk in free agency next year to find a better offer. After re-signing tight end Tyler Eifert and trading for offensive tackle Cordy Glenn, its unlikely the team will spend on another big contract outside of these two players. The question remains, will they be able to get it done before Donald and Suh reset the market for elite defensive line play?