The Bengals follow through on their plan to resign their stars by extending veterans DE Carlos Dunlap and DT Geno Atkins.
The Bengals have made a big splash today, extending both Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins. Both players have been a staple of the Bengals’ defense for over a half decade, so retaining them for the next few years was absolutely crucial. Dunlap got a 3 year, $45 million extension from the Bengals, while Atkins has received a 4 year, $65 million extension. This keeps Dunlap here until 2021 and Atkins here until 2022.
The sense was always that the Bengals were going to get something done before the season started. Dunlap in particular had negotiations from the start of camp, as his agent Drew Rosenhaus was around as soon as practices began. The team also cleared cap space with the release of George Iloka, knocking off over $5 million for the next three seasons.
Dunlap’s $45 million over three years is higher than what was initially reported from negotiations. Originally, the number was more like 3 years, $36 million. However, $45 million, or $15 million annually, is more in line with Dunlap’s production and skill. Aside from Ziggy Ansah and Demarcus Lawrence, who both have one year deals as part of their rookie contracts, Dunlap is now tied for the third highest paid defensive end in the league.
This is fair value, especially since Dunlap isn’t out of his prime yet. He compares very similarly to Calais Campbell, the Jacksonville DE who has a 4 year, $60 million contract. Both are larger ends for the position, so they are impactful on all three downs. Dunlap and Campbell also have similar sack upside. Overall, this deal is the perfect length and value for Dunlap.
Atkins’ deal comes as a much bigger surprise to me. 4 years makes sense, since this will pay him through his age 35 season. However, for a shorter term contract, I expected a per year value that would reset the DT market. Atkins has been a top five (or better) defensive tackle for the last five years, so he could easily have reached $20 million per year on a short contract like this.
However, the Bengals seem to have gotten a steal here. Not only is this contract a great value for a beast like Atkins, but it is also frontloaded. Atkins will make $25.5 million of that in his first year, and $37.5 million over the first two years. This allows the Bengals to pay him less as his play may decline in his mid-30s. All in all, this deal is excellent for the Bengals and Atkins.
The team now enters this season with their two biggest defensive stars with new contracts. That long-term security should be an excellent motivator for Dunlap and Atkins to have big years.