Bengals give contract extensions to two of their best defensive players
Five years ago, Cincinnati gave 2010 draft picks Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap their first extensions
On Tuesday, the Bengals extended both players again. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Atkins, one of the league's best interior defenders, signed a four-year extension worth $65.3 million, including $25.5 million in the first year. More than half the new contract will be paid in the first two years and Atkins' new $16.3 million annual average salary is the highest signed by a non-quarterback at least 30 years old.
Meanwhile, Dunlap's deal is for three years and $45 million, according to Schefter.
"We're very happy to sign Geno and Carlos," Bengals Executive Vice President Katie Blackburn said in a statement. "We think very highly of them. They have been such great players for us, and we're excited to have them continue their careers as Cincinnati Bengals."
Coach Marvin Lewis added: "Geno and Carlos have worked hard to improve each season, and we're expecting 2018 to be their best seasons yet. We have worked diligently to develop and retain talent over the years, and these contracts keep two of our best players with us for the foreseeable future."
Atkins, a 2010 fourth-round pick, is a six-time Pro Bowler. He had nine sacks last season, 29 since 2015, and 61 over his career. Dunlap, a 2010 second-rounder, had 7.5 sacks last season, 29 since 2015 and 64.5 over his career.
The Bengals' defense has been replacement level the previous two seasons, which also coincides with losing records and missing the playoffs, but the unit ranked 10th in defense in 2015, according to Football Outsiders' metrics, when Cincinnati went 12-4. The hope is that Atkins and Dunlap, two of the AFC's most tenacious pass rushers, can get the Bengals back to the postseason.
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