Geno Atkins will lead the Bengals in sacks
Geno Atkins has been a physical menace along the Bengals’ defensive line for years. Aside from maybe wide receiver A.J. Green, Atkins has been the most consistently dominant player on the Bengals the last few seasons. He’s both a traditional stats monster and an advanced analytics darling. The last three seasons, Atkins has totaled 9 or more sacks, making the Pro Bowl each season. Atkins also consistently places among the top graders in PFF’s overall rankings, including finishing second last year.
Atkins will continue his absolute dominance of offensive opponents next season. Atkins will lead the Bengals in sacks in 2018. Even with edge rushers Carlos Dunlap and Carl Lawson on the roster, Atkins will outpace them both with a double-digit sack season. His consistency has been outstanding, but he’s fallen just short of 10 sacks two years in a row. In 2018, Atkins won’t want to make it three. Atkins also enters a contract year, adding an extra incentive for him to perform this year.
However, Atkins won’t even hit unrestricted free agency. The Bengals and Atkins will negotiate an extension before the season ends that keeps Atkins in Cincinnati and makes him the highest paid defensive tackle in the league (per annum). Atkins will turn 30 this year, so he likely won’t get the 6-year extensions that Fletcher Cox and Gerald McCoy got. However, Atkins is just as good if not better than both. Atkins deserves top dollar, and the Bengals will ensure he stays on the roster by shelling out more than any other team has for a defensive tackle.
I expect Atkins’ salary to hit at least $18 million. If the Bengals believe in him long-term and want to offer a 6-year deal, a 6-year, $108 million deal seems about right. However, I could also see the Bengals offering Atkins a shorter term deal with better annual pay. That way, they aren’t on the hook for a 35 or 36-year-old Geno Atkins. Therefore, a 4-year, $80 million deal could also be in play. Regardless, these figures would make Atkins the highest paid defensive tackle in the league. He’s earned it, and he will get it.