Geno Atkins

Bengals Open To Geno Atkins Return

Bengals Director of Player Personnel Duke Tobin says the team is still open to bringing Geno Atkins back in 2021. The defensive tackle remains unsigned, so he could return on a cheaper deal than his original pact.

Geno is one of the greatest players in franchise history and one of the best defensive tackles of the last decade,” Tobin said (via the team website). “He gave us what he had last year…We’ll see if there are things that can be worked out. If it is, great. If not, I think we’ve got other guys that can fill the role.”

Atkins fought through a shoulder injury throughout 2020. Towards the end, it proved to be too much to play with. He suited up for just eight games in total, and, even when he was healthy, he wasn’t happy about his playing time. His final tally: zero sacks and zero starts. It was a sharp drop from his pre-extension season in 2017, when he finished out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 2 ranked interior defender.

The Bengals could have had the perennial Pro Bowler under contract through 2022, but his $14.8MM cap hit for 2021 was too much. Instead, they dropped Atkins and his $12.2MM in non-guaranteed money.

Of course, given Atkins’ lack of playing time last year, he may prefer to add to his 75.5 career sacks in a different uniform.

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Bengals Release Geno Atkins

The Bengals released defensive tackle Geno Atkins, head coach Zac Taylor announced. Atkins was due $12.2MM in non-guaranteed money, so the Bengals took the opportunity to wipe that from the books. In addition, the Bengals are also cutting quarterback Ryan Finley and offensive tackle Bobby Hart (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). All together, the moves will save the Bengals roughly $30MM in cap space.

Atkins fought through a shoulder injury throughout the season. Towards the end, it proved to be too much to play with. He suited up for just eight games in total, and, even when he was healthy, he wasn’t happy about his playing time. His final tally: zero sacks and zero starts. It was a sharp drop from his pre-extension season in 2017, when he finished out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 2 ranked interior defender. The Bengals could have had the perennial Pro Bowler under contract through 2022, but his $14.8MM cap hit for 2021 was too much.

Last year, he watched his longtime counterpart Carlos Dunlap — the No. 1 all-time Bengals sack leader — get shipped to the Seahawks. It’s now the 33-year-old’s turn to exit. He leaves with eight Pro Bowls to his credit and the second-highest sack total in franchise history.

Hart, whose release will yield ~$6MM in savings, was long rumored to be a cap casualty. And, with Riley Reiff in the mix, his services were no longer needed.

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AFC North Notes: Lamar, Stanley, Atkins

Conflicting reports emerged early regarding Lamar Jackson extension talks with the Ravens. The self-represented quarterback has, in fact, engaged in discussions with the team, per Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com (video link). While it does not sound like the talks have progressed too far, GM Eric DeCosta said he and Jackson have spoken about the framework of a deal, Hensley adds. An earlier report indicated the Ravens and Jackson were not close on terms, and while that may be, DeCosta confirmed true negotiations will commence at some point. John Harbaugh said earlier this year a Jackson extension would likely come to pass either this offseason or in 2022. Jackson is due just $1.77MM in base salary this season.

Several quarterbacks — Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson — have opted for extensions going into their fourth seasons in recent years, rather than earn rookie-contract money in Year 4. Dak Prescott waited, and that worked out well. Prescott’s new deal figures to help Jackson, as do the impending new TV deals that could restore the NFL’s salary cap growth. The Ravens will certainly pick up Jackson’s fifth-year option — a fully guaranteed $23.1MM — in May, giving them more time to work out a deal.

Here is the latest from the North divisions:

  • After trading Geno Atkins‘ longtime defensive line mate, the Bengals are not committing to bringing back their perennial Pro Bowl defensive tackle. Cincinnati shipped Carlos Dunlap to Seattle, after reducing his role last season, and used Atkins in a part-time capacity during his eight-game 2020 season. The 11-year veteran battled a shoulder injury last season. “We’ll see what if any of the room we need to do some other things. It’s a fluid situation,” Bengals player personnel director Duke Tobin said, via the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Tyler Dragon. “… He’s a homegrown product, really a success story and a guy I have loved watching grow over the years. He gave us what he had last year but it was not near what he’s used to and what we are used to seeing.” Atkins, who will turn 33 later this month, should not be expected back on a $14.7MM cap number. It will be interesting to see how the Bengals proceed with their seven-time Pro Bowler.
  • Having missed out on J.J. Watt, the Browns are expected to pursue a big-ticket defensive end to complement Myles Garrett. They created another vacancy up front, cutting Adrian Clayborn after one season.

Bengals Place Geno Atkins On IR

The Bengals placed defensive tackle Geno Atkins on injured reserve, per a club announcement. The veteran has played through his right shoulder injury all year long, but he’ll need surgery and time off in order to fully recuperate. 

The injury may also mark the end of Atkins’ time with the Bengals. Atkins played in just eight games and, even when he was healthier earlier in the season, he voiced frustration about his role. The Bengals have the perennial Pro Bowler under contract through 2022, but his $14.8MM cap hit for 2021 might not make sense for Cincy.

Atkins has eight Pro Bowls to his credit to go along with the second-highest sack total in franchise history. Earlier in the year, he watched his longtime counterpart Carlos Dunlap — the No. 1 all-time Bengals sack leader — get shipped out to the Seahawks. The Bengals are clearly in need of another reboot and the 33-year-old probably wouldn’t fit the budget.

Atkins’ forgettable 2020 will end with zero sacks and zero starts. He’ll look to add to his 75.5 career sacks in 2021 — perhaps in another uniform.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Trade Notes: Harris, Texans, Geno, Browns

After trading Yannick Ngakoue, the Vikings appear to be reopening the door to dealing their franchise player. Anthony Harris is again available, per Albert Breer of SI.com. The Vikings discussed at least one tag-and-trade deal involving the 2019 breakout player-turned-tag recipient this offseason but moved forward with Harris as a starter for the third season. The price was believed to be a Day 2 pick at that point. Harris has more than half of his $11.4MM tag salary due. Harris joins safety mate Harrison Smith, tight end Kyle Rudolph and left tackle Riley Reiff as available Viking veterans.

Here is more from the trade market, with five days to go until the deadline:

  • We have heard trade rumors surrounding the bulk of the Texans‘ receiving corps. The Packers, among others, inquired about Will Fuller; Randall Cobb and Brandin Cooks have also come up in talks. The Texans are prepared to part with any of their wideouts — for the right offer, of course. Every Texan except Deshaun Watson, J.J. Watt, Laremy Tunsil and right tackle Tytus Howard is available, Breer adds. Fuller and Kenny Stills are on expiring contracts; Cobb is signed through 2022; Cooks through ’23.
  • NFL INT leader Xavien Howard has surfaced as a name to watch ahead of the deadline. While the Dolphins have fielded calls on the fifth-year cornerback, they have not received a firm offer, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes. The Dolphins also appear dead-set against dealing Howard, with Jackson adding that it would likely take multiple first-round picks (an unrealistic ask) for Miami to consider a deal. Howard is in the first season of a five-year, $75MM contract.
  • The Bengals traded all-time sack leader Carlos Dunlap to the Seahawks, and teams are wondering if the franchise’s No. 2 all-time sacker (Geno Atkins) is available. Teams have contacted the Bengals on the 11th-year defensive tackle but have been told he is not being traded, Breer notes. Atkins is signed through 2022, and although he has voiced frustration about his role, the Bengals will hang onto the perennial Pro Bowler.
  • In the thick of the AFC playoff race at 5-2, the Browns may still be dangling Olivier Vernon. Although the veteran defensive end came off Cleveland’s trade block this summer, the Browns shopped him for a while. They may be doing so again, with Breer indicating the 30-year-old edge rusher is being viewed as available. However, the Browns would move to replace the veteran opposite Myles Garrett. They were in on the first Nkagoue sweepstakes in August but lost out to the Vikings. In the final year of his contract, Vernon does not have a sack this season.
  • Entering their Week 8 game, the Panthers may be straddling the buyer-seller line at 3-4. However, they are still in a rebuilding phase in Matt Rhule‘s first season. Any buyer’s deal Carolina makes would be for a player controllable beyond this season rather than a rental who could help the team secure a wild-card spot, Joe Person of The Athletic writes (subscription required).
  • Prior to signing Mohamed Sanu as injury insurance this year, the 49ers finished second to the Patriots for Sanu at last year’s deadline. The 49ers offered the Falcons a third-round pick for Sanu, Breer notes, but the Pats gave up a second-round pick. San Francisco’s subsequent Emmanuel Sanders addition ended up being more impactful, and Sanu is currently training for his next opportunity.

Bengals Looking To Trade Carlos Dunlap

This won’t come as much of a surprise given the tension between player and team, but the Bengals have had active trade talks surrounding defensive end Carlos Dunlap, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com writes. In fact, Dunlap may be deactivated for this afternoon’s game against the Browns so that he doesn’t suffer an injury that would scuttle a potential deal.

Dunlap started Cincinnati’s first four games of the season and played in 75% of the team’s snaps in its Week 4 win over the Jaguars. But he did not start in the Bengals’ Week 5 loss to the Ravens — the first time in years he had not started a game — and he ultimately played in just 46% of the defensive snaps.

The 31-year-old took issue with the fact that head coach Zac Taylor did not talk to him personally about his demotion, and he recently posted the Bengals’ edge rotations on social media, saying “I don’t got time for this” (via Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic on Twitter). With Cincinnati in rebuild mode, it would not be surprising to see them move on from their unhappy pass rusher.

Of course, plenty of pundits and executives believed the Bengals should have been sellers at last year’s trade deadline, but the team elected to stand pat and did not make any moves to add to its draft capital. Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports reports that Cincinnati may do the same this year, with one NFC executive saying the team’s asking prices on its veteran trade candidates are too high.

Jones’ CBS Sports colleague, Jason La Canfora, is also hearing from rival execs that the Bengals’ have unrealistic demands, though there is a sense that a trade is likelier to get done this year than it was last year. Dunlap, as Rapoport suggests, may have already played his last snap as a Bengal, but RapSheet says Geno Atkins and A.J. Green are probably not going anywhere.

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Bengals’ Geno Atkins Frustrated With Role

Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap, are frustrated with their roles, according to sources who spoke with Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Once pillars of the Bengals’ defensive line, both players have been effectively relegated to third-down roles this year.

The Bengals started Xavier Williams and defensive end Amani Bledsoe over both veterans in the team’s Week 6 loss to the Colts. Atkins saw just 18 snaps while Dunlap was in for 28 defensive plays. Atkins, who is coming off of his eighth-career Pro Bowl nod, is understandably miffed. Dunlap – with two Pro Bowl selections to his credit – has been vocal about his feelings for the last few weeks.

With just a couple of weeks to go before the trade deadline, it’s a situation to monitor. The Bengals are reluctant to move their one-time defensive stars, sources tell Dragon, but that could change quickly. If they don’t trade either player by Nov. 3, the Bengals could move to release them in the offseason. Dropping Atkins would save the team $9.6MM while a Dunlap release would put $11.25MM back on the books.

The Bengals – who are now 1-4-1 after dropping two straight – will look to get back in the win column on Sunday against the Browns.

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Bengals Place DT Mike Daniels On IR

The Bengals will be further depleted at defensive tackle when they face the Jaguars on Sunday. They placed Mike Daniels on IR on Saturday.

Daniels, who signed with the Bengals this summer, suffered an elbow injury — one he aggravated during practice this week. Daniels managed a limited practice Thursday but was held out Friday. He will be down for at least three weeks now.

Cincinnati has been without perennial Pro Bowler Geno Atkins all season. Atkins took part in three limited workouts this week but has already been declared out for Week 4. The practice participation points to Atkins getting closer, having not been placed on IR despite what will be a four-week absence.

The team has fellow 2020 acquisitions D.J. Reader and Christian Covington healthy at defensive tackle. Daniels, however, had started both games in which he played this season.

To add help up front, the Bengals are promoting defensive tackle Freedom Akinmoladun. They will also elevate cornerback offensive lineman Alex Redmond and cornerback Torry McTyer from the practice squad.

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GMs Expecting Active Trade Deadline

The NFL has experienced a dramatic rise in significant trades over the past several years, and there may be a few noteworthy swaps going down this month as we get closer to the October 29 trade deadline. Indeed, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says there is a sense among general managers that we may see more trades in advance of this year’s deadline than ever before, largely because there is a larger gulf between pretenders and contenders than in seasons past (indeed, there are still six winless teams, which is the highest number at this point in the season since the 1970 merger).

La Canfora says the teams most actively laying groundwork for potential deals are the Saints, Eagles, Ravens, Chiefs, Patriots, and Seahawks. Of course, a number of those clubs have already been pursuing Jacksonville CB Jalen Ramsey, and the Saints, Eagles, Ravens, and Chiefs are casting a wide net for cornerback upgrades.

One of this year’s still-winless clubs, the Broncos, are reportedly more open to moving veteran pieces than they were last year, as La Canfora writes in a separate piece, with Derek Wolfe, Chris Harris, and Emmanuel Sanders all generating interest. Wolfe could make sense for Baltimore, and the Saints are expected to renew their pursuit of Sanders. Even Von Miller could be on the block, per La Canfora, especially since all of his major bonuses and guarantees have already been paid. Miller, 30, is reportedly open to a change of scenery at this point, but Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network says the Broncos will not trade him (video link). However, the other players mentioned above could be available if Denver continues to scuffle.

But while Denver may be willing to talk shop, rival GMs are skeptical that the 0-4 Bengals, led by old-school owner Mike Brown, will be amenable to moving big-name vets despite their fading fortunes. La Canfora’s sources say Cincinnati could net a first-round pick for WR A.J. Green if the acquiring club is able to work out a new contract with him as a condition of the trade (and if Green recovers from his foot injury soon). The Patriots and Saints could make a push for Green or Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert, and Cincy could also swing deals for players like Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap if the club is willing to listen to offers.

Like fellow winless outfits Denver and Cincinnati, the Jets could be active in shopping veteran players in advance of the deadline. La Canfora specifically names Kelechi Osemele and Leonard Williams as players who could be on the move, though he says there has been no trade chatter surrounding Le’Veon Bell at this point.

Finally, though the 0-4 Redskins have been steadfastly refusing to trade Trent Williams, some believe that the team will relent at some point and will ship Williams to a contender in need of O-line help.

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Contract Details: OBJ, Mason, Bengals

We have already learned a fair amount about the details of Odell Beckham Jr.‘s new mega-deal with the Giants, but Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv passes along some important information about OBJ’s cap hits. While his contract will provide New York with $3MM of cap relief in 2018, Beckham’s cap number balloons to $21MM in 2019 and will be between $15MM and $19.75MM from 2020 to 2023.

In 2019, then, the Giants could be devoting half of their cap space to just five players, and they are projected to have just $12MM in cap room in 2019 at the moment. That number will increase with several easy cuts and restructures, but Beckham’s contract will force the club to make a few difficult decisions, which Vacchiano explores in greater detail.

Now let’s take a look at a few more notes on recently-signed contracts:

  • Ben Volin of the Boston Globe reports that Shaq Mason‘s extension with the Patriots includes $45MM in new money, a $12MM signing bonus, and $5MM in incentives. He also provides a breakdown of Mason’s guarantees, base salaries, and cap numbers (Twitter links).
  • Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Geno Atkinsextension with the Bengals includes a $13MM signing bonus, which is part of $17MM in guaranteed money. Atkins is also eligible for up to $500K per year in per game active bonuses and workout bonuses. Carlos Dunlap‘s new deal with Cincinnati, meanwhile, features $18MM in guarantees and several sacks escalators. Owczarski also provides the base salaries for both players.
  • Greg Mancz‘s two-year extension with the Texans, which kicks in after the 2018 season, is worth $6MM in total, per NFL insider Adam Caplan (via Twitter).