The Cincinnati Bengals surprisingly signed Kyle Cook to a four-year extension on Friday, sealing the team's starting center through the 2015 season with reportedly $5 million guaranteed on the $14 million extension. While the signing was surprising, it was necessary to seal a good center for the near-term.
Said Cook after signing:
“It means a lot. Obviously it is something that I’ve wanted to get done for awhile. I just have to worry about playing the games now, nothing else.”
Over the past two seasons, Cook is considered one of the top three offensive lineman with Cincinnati -- behind Andrew Whitworth and Bobbie Williams. In over 2,000 offensive snaps since 2009, Cook has allowed only four quarterback sacks and seven quarterback hits.
Last year was Cook's best.
According to Pro Football Focus, Cook graded as the team's second-best run blocker behind Andrew Whitworth. Though Cook is a center, playing against defensive tackles that aren't considered the best pass rushers (along with help from the guards), players that Cook blocked only hit the quarterback three times last year during pass rushes (though he did give up three quarterback sacks).
Compared to other centers around the league, Cook ranked inside the top-10 in pass blocking and 12th overall.
After Rich Braham suffered a broken leg during the second week of the 2006 season, one of the team's 2005 fourth-round selections, Eric Ghiaciuc resumed the center duties through the 2008 season. He struggled most of the time to contain defensive tackles from penetrating the line of scrimmage, often forcing Rudi Johnson -- more of a straight-line runner -- to make cuts in the backfield, severely limiting his effectiveness.
The team didn't sign Ghiaciuc after his contract expired following the 2008 season, promoting Cook as the team's starter. He's been there since and he'll be around for at least another five years.