Bengals Rumors: Geno Atkins not expected to return to Cincinnati in 2021

The Cincinnati Bengals marked the end of an era this offseason when they released longtime stalwart defensive tackle Geno Atkins after 11 seasons with the organization.

There have been rumblings that the team could look to bring back Atkins at some point prior to the start of the season, but that doesn’t appear to be in the cards.

NFL insider Malik Wright said on ESPN 1530 on Monday that a potential Atkins/Bengals reunion appears unlikely. His exact words were “I was told that ship has sailed.”

Wright did indicate that plans could change, especially if an unexpected injury occurs. But at least as of right now, it doesn’t seem like Cincinnati is looking to re-sign their former captain.

The Bengals aren’t expected to re-sign Geno Atkins

A fourth-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Atkins quickly established himself as one of the best defensive tackles in football making the Pro Bowl in just his second season.

It was the first of what would be a whopping eight Pro Bowl appearances, along with two first-team All-Pro selections. Atkins played in a total of 161 games over 11 years in Cincinnati, but the writing was on the wall for his departure.

The 33-year-old was an afterthought in 2020 playing in eight games and recording just one tackle in 111 defensive snaps. He battled through a shoulder injury suffered prior to the start of the season and it clearly limited his effectiveness.

The Bengals have publically spoken about how they feel Atkins still has something left in the tank and that his struggles were primarily due to his injury. However, they’re clearly looking to go in a different direction.

Cincinnati signed Larry Ogunjobi in free agency and re-signed veteran Mike Daniels leaving little room for Atkins and his large contract on the roster.

There’s also fourth-round rookie Tyler Shelvin who’s expected to serve as D.J. Reader’s primary backup at nose tackle.

It should also be noted that Wright indicated that he wasn’t sure if Atkins even wants to continue playing. At 33-years-old and coming off an injury-riddled 2020 season, the eight-time Pro Bowler could call it quits.

If someone like Ogunjobi or Daniels goes down with a major injury, don’t rule out Atkins returning.

But as of now, the Geno Atkins era has likely come to an end in Cincinnati.