Geno Atkins

Extension Candidate: Geno Atkins

This offseason, we have (rightfully) heard a great deal about potential extensions for star defenders Aaron Donald, Khalil Mack, and Jadeveon Clowney. That discussion has overshadowed Geno Atkins, to some extent, as he pushes for a new deal.

The defensive tackle inked a five-year, $53.3MM extension with the Bengals back in 2013, which has him in place through the 2018 season. The deal has proved to be a winner for both sides. For the Bengals, the deal allowed them to keep a top performer under contract at roughly $10.6MM per year while the market advanced at a sharp rate. Atkins, meanwhile, made more cash than he could ever hope to spend and is now primed to do it all over again at the age of 30.

When Atkins’ deal began in 2014, he was the NFL’s third-highest paid 4-3 defensive tackle with a $9MM cap number. Today, his $9.5MM cap figure for 2018 places him seventh in the same category. After finishing the year as Pro Football Focus’ No. 2 ranked interior defender – behind only Donald – something has to change.

Like Donald, Atkins is a stout run defender with the ability to also disrupt opposing quarterbacks from the interior. Atkins has notched at least nine sacks in each of the last three seasons, and, save for the 2013 season cut short by an ACL tear, he has never missed a game. Donald is still three years younger and in a class of his own, but Atkins has been far more dominant than many outside of Cincinnati realize.

If Donald signs first, Atkins’ camp will have a favorable comp to work off of, even though his deal will be worth less. The Bengals aren’t technically on the clock here, but they may want to get a deal done sooner rather than later.

A new deal for Atkins will definitely cost eight figures per year, but it remains to be seen how far the Bengals will go. With a fluid cap situation both this year and next, you can expect the Bengals to lock up Atkins on a multi-year deal worth around $12MM per season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals Notes: Atkins, Flowers, Worley, Supplemental Draft

Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins is one of several stars around the league waiting to get paid. Entering the last year of his contract, he’s also one of several Bengals waiting to get paid. Defensive end Carlos Dunlap has made waves this offseason by staying away from OTAs and making it clear that he wants a new contract, but Atkins is the better player and likely the player the team wants to lock up first. The Bengals view Atkins as a priority according to Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com, who writes an extension is “an absolute must. Like sunrise or high tide. They know they need him.”

Hobson thinks the Bengals will do everything they can to ensure the three-time All-Pro doesn’t become a free agent at the end of this season. He thinks the wait for a new deal may have something to do with Aaron Donald and the Rams. As Donald awaits his new deal that may make him the highest paid defensive player in the league, Hobson thinks if “Donald signs before him it will make it easier” for Atkins to sign since it will “set the parameters” by resetting the market for defensive tackles.

One way or another, it looks like something will get done and that Atkins will be a Bengal for years to come.

Here’s more from Cincinnati:

  • The Bengals could be active in this year’s Supplemental NFL Draft, according to Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Although the Bengals haven’t taken anyone in the Supplemental Draft since 2006, Owczarski thinks this years crop of eligible players are the type of players the Bengals like, writing “this year’s supplemental draft group might pique the Bengals interest.” He thinks the players who have announced “fit positions and physical traits that suit the Bengals” and that since the Bengals have a bunch of late-round picks for the 2019 draft, they might be willing to use one or more of them in the Supplemental Draft.
  • Hobson thinks undrafted linebacker Chris Worley will have “every chance to make” the Bengals’ roster. A rookie from Ohio State, Worley has reportedly impressed during OTAs and Hobson gives him a good shot at making the team due to linebacker Vontaze Burfict’s four-game suspension to start the season.
  • Quinton Flowers is a “long shot” to make the team, according to Hobson. Flowers was a quarterback at South Florida, but switched positions to running back after signing with the Bengals as an undrafted free agent. If he does manage to make the team, Hobson thinks he’ll play a hybrid role as “the third QB, fourth running back, seventh wide receiver and second or third returner.”

AFC Notes: Broncos, Brady, Jets, Dunlap

Bill Musgrave, who was elevated to Broncos‘ offensive coordinator once Mike McCoy was dismissed after Week 10 of the 2017 campaign, could not effectuate many wholesale changes to the offense midseason. But as Mike Klis of 9News.com writes, Musgrave is installing an almost completely different offense this year. “Yeah, it’s pretty much all different,” Musgrave said.

Denver ranked 27th in the league in scoring last season, and everyone from the front office down believed that McCoy’s complex system was a big reason for that, although the team’s offense has been in a funk since the second half of the 2014 season. However, the Broncos hope that Case Keenum will bring much-needed stability to the quarterback position, and that Musgrave’s more streamlined offense — which was developed along with GM John Elway, head coach Vance Joseph, and personnel advisor Gary Kubiak — will lead to improved results in 2018.

Now let’s take look at a few other AFC notes and rumors:

  • Although Tom Brady has not announced when he will return to the Patriots, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, just like owner Robert Kraft, expects him to be present for the team’s mandatory minicamp this week. Brady’s backups, Brian Hoyer and Danny Etling, have gotten increased work in Brady’s absence, and it remains unclear as to how Brady will be received by head coach Bill Belichick when he returns. While Brady will likely not have much trouble making up for lost time, his absence has created plenty of buzz in the NFL world, and it is not helping the already palpable tension between him and his coach.
  • Mike Reiss of ESPN.com says Patriots second-year TE Jacob Hollister, who made the team as a UDFA last year, has added some noticeable weight and strength and has looked good in OTAs. Hollister will compete for No. 3 TE reps with free agent signee Troy Niklas, who comes with a better draft pedigree but who has not done much in his first few professional seasons.
  • Jets CEO Christopher Johnson‘s pro-player stance on the national anthem issue will likely not be a major factor when it comes to luring free agents, but Rich Cimini of ESPN.com says it is suggestive of a player-friendly environment, which could be a selling point if a player has narrowed his choice to a couple of teams. In the same piece, Cimini notes that the team is rededicating itself to a physical and prominent running game, which free agent signee Isaiah Crowell will lead, and that Quincy Enunwa still expects to be ready for the start of training camp.
  • Steelers‘ 2018 second-round choice James Washington is the presumptive favorite to assume the team’s No. 3 WR job following the draft-day trade of Martavis Bryant. But as Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com writes, Justin Hunter — a former second-round pick of the Titans whose star never rose like some expected — has been getting a few first-team reps during this year’s OTAs, and he is making the most of them. Hunter, like Bryant, is a lanky deep threat capable of making plays downfield, and he hopes to become a consistent target for Ben Roethlisberger.
  • Both Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap are entering the final year of their respective contracts, and as Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer notes, the Bengals clearly want to keep Atkins around long-term. Whether or not they want to keep Dunlap could hinge not only on the performance of the young defensive lineman already on the roster, but on next year’s crop of rookies. 2019 is already being labeled “the year of the defensive lineman,” and if the 2019 crop of collegiate prospects lives up to its billing, Cincinnati could be perfectly content to let Dunlap walk. We learned yesterday that Dunlap would end his short-lived holdout and report to the team.
  • In the same piece linked above, Dehner names Bengals‘ 2018 fifth-round choice Darius Phillips as the late-round pick who has stood out the most thus far. Phillips has been deployed as a slot corner in spring practices and has looked sharp and instinctive. He also has been getting a shot at punt returner, as he is reportedly electric with the ball in his hands.

Extra Points: Cowboys, Rams, Brockers, Lions, Dunlap

After much speculation, Cowboys defender Byron Jones confirmed on Monday that he will be switching from safety to cornerback in 2018, the Dallas Morning News’ Jon Machota writes.

Viewed as a versatile defender coming out of college, Jones played cornerback as a rookie in 2015 and a safety the past two seasons. New defensive backs coach Kris Richard preferred him at the former.

“I think it will be a good move for me and the team. I’m always open to making position changes, as long as I’m in the best position to succeed. If [Richard] believes my best position is corner, then I’m down.”

Richard knows a thing or two about getting the best from bigger cornerbacks. With the Seahawks, Richard oversaw Richard Sherman’s ascent to one of the premier corners in the league. What remains to be seen is if the team prefers him on the boundary or in the slot. In 2017, rookies Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis showed plenty of promise on the outside.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • In a press conference on Monday, Rams defensive lineman Michael Brockers told reporters he tore his MCL in the team’s playoff loss to the Falcons in January, ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez tweets. During that game, the sixth-year defender sat out the second half. The good news for Los Angeles is that Brockers took part in team activities on Monday, but they’re not in pads until training camp.
  • If any Lions players are moved in draft-day deals, some of the names that make sense include Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick and Jake Rudock, ESPN’s Michael Rothstein writes. Those names all come to mind after the team added veterans in LeGarrette Blount and Matt Cassel in the offseason.
  • The goal is for the Bengals to sign both Carlos Dunlap and get a new deal with Geno AtkinsBengals.com writer Geoff Hobson notes in a mailbag. Both Dunlap’s and Atkins’ deals run through the 2018 campaign.
  • NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to be deposed in the next two weeks in Colin Kaeperncik‘s collusion case against the league, USA Today’s A.J. Perez writes. Seahawks general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll are also on the docket to be deposed.

Bengals Notes: Atkins, Dunlap, Ross

Defensive tackle Geno Atkins is near the top of the Bengals’ wishlist of players to extend. The six-time Pro Bowler is entering the final year of a five-year $55MM extension and though he turned 30 earlier this week, he’s not showing signs of slowing down.

Atkins has tallied nine sacks in each of the last two seasons without missing a game. In fact, he hasn’t missed a game since 2013.

The Bengals have indicated his extension will certainly be a priority.

“In our football business, you pay for high-end talent and Geno has been at the top of our industry for a long time and we think he can continue to do that and that’s why we’re trying to see what the opportunities are going forward,” said Bengals vice president Troy Blackburn to Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer

Atkins set the market for defensive tackles back in 2013 but has since been upstaged by the likes of Gerald McCoy (seven years, $98MM) and Ndamukong Suh (six years, $114MM — with the Dolphins). Suh most-recently signed a one-year, $14MM deal with the Rams.

Here’s more from the Bengals:

  • The Bengals have another defensive lineman nearing free agency in Carlos Dunlap. He’s also entering the final year of his deal — a six-year, $40MM extension signed in July 2013. The 29-year-old two-time Pro Bowler hasn’t logged less than 7 1/2 sacks in a season since 2013 while not missing a game since 2012. Blackburn said “That’s right” to Dehner Jr. when asked if Dunlap was viewed in the same scope as Atkins. But excess talent at defensive end in Carl Lawson and Jordan Willis could complicate matters. “At the same time, we’re going to be looking at the young guys we have coming up,” Blackburn said
  • John Ross had an abysmal rookie season with the Bengals, fumbling on his only touch of the year. But his lack of production didn’t have to do with a fractured relationship with coach Marvin Lewis. “He wasn’t in my doghouse. I don’t have a doghouse,” Lewis said to Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. “I think he’s all the ability we wanted. That’s why we drafted him. He had to get fixed. We knew he was injured going in and he got nicked up a couple of times in his lower legs and the other shoulder was bothering him. He’s all fixed now.” The Bengals took the speedster out of Washington with the No. 9 overall pick of the 2017 draft.
  • Earlier this week, Bengals president of player personnel Duke Tobin acknowledged that building around a player like Vontaze Burfict hasn’t been “ideal” but the team plans to stick by him and his recently-signed three-year extension for the time being. Burfict is suspended for the first four games of the upcoming season for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

AFC Links: Keisel, Dolphins, Ravens, Atkins

Brett Keisel is excited to return to the Steelers, and the defensive end isn’t concerned about his role for this upcoming season. Instead, he’s focused on helping the team, particularly the rookies.

To be back and to be able to hope to help lead some of these guys and help these guys turn into pros and accountable pros, I’m excited about it,” Keisel told Alan Robinson of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

“I’ve felt since about March, when I decided I still wanted to play football, that something would happen. I hoped it would be here, and for a long time … nothing happened, nothing happened. It was kind of weird like, ‘What am I going to do now?'”

So, after having started in each of his 110 games since 2006, will the veteran welcome a reduced role?

We really didn’t get into that too much. They just said, ‘We want you back.'”

Let’s check out some more notes from the AFC…

  • As Dolphins running back Knowshon Moreno continues to get healthy, Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald believes the player will climb up the depth chart. That could leave some of his teammates, including Daniel Thomas, on the outside looking in. However, the prospect of being cut is far from the 26-year-old’s mind. I don’t really worry about it,” Thomas said. “I’ll just let whatever happens, happens and just go with it. It’s all I can do.”
  • Considering the injuries in the Ravens secondary, Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun says that the team “probably can’t afford to cut any corners” until the starters return to practice.
  • Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins is expected to make his preseason debut on Sunday. After recovering from an ACL injury, some could be worried that the Pro-Bowler has lost some explosiveness. That does not include head coach Marvin Lewis, who told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com that Geno looks like Geno.”