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Bengals lock up lynchpin DL Atkins, Dunlap with extensions totaling more than $110 million

August 29, 2018

The Bengals inked DT Geno Atkins and DE Carlos Dunlap to contract extensions Tuesday totaling more than $110 million combined.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the new four-year deal for Atkins, who turned 30 in March, maxes out at $65.3 million, and the average of $16.3-million average is the highest for a non-QB over the age of 30 in NFL history. Dunlap, 29, can earn up to $45 million over three seasons.

Although the initial reaction to these extensions might be that the historically cheap Bengals are finally breaking the bank and doing it for a pair of old-timers, we think we can understand the motives of coach Marvin Lewis and personnel maven Duke Tobin.

For starters, both Bengals D-line lynchpins epitomize durability and consistency. Atkins has missed only nine games in his first eight seasons, all following a 2013 torn ACL. All Atkins has done following a quiet first year back is tally 29 combined sacks over the past three seasons, one shy of reigning Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald.

Dunlap has appeared in 94 consecutive games since 2012 and averaged nearly nine sacks per season since ’13. He’s also a long, effective edge setter and takeaway machine with 42 pass breakups and 16 forced fumbles in his career.

Then there’s the fact that both highly respected veterans have been model citizens for an organization that has developed a reputation for welcoming problem children. Perhaps less documented, Cincinnati also has drafted some stud front-seven pieces lately on Day 2, including Carl Lawson, Jordan Willis and rookie Sam Hubbard. Not only can they be great bargains over the next few years, they’ll receive great guidance from the clear leaders up front.

The Bengals’ recent cuts of Chris Baker and George Iloka make more sense now, as they surely helped Cincinnati prevent these two stalwarts from potentially hitting the open market next offseason. Whether they can help the Bengals’ offseason begin later than it has in consecutive playoff-less campaigns will ultimately determine whether it was money well spent, not to mention another lifelong Bengal being retained to the surprise of many when this offseason began.

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