Optimism that an extension could be reached with Geno Atkins

John Grieshop

The Cincinnati Bengals have bagged one of their foundation players in Carlos Dunlap. Now it's on to the rest of them.

With Carlos Dunlap signed and sealed through 2018 and Michael Johnson on the doubtful-to-return list beyond 2013, the extensions storylines shifts the focus on Geno Atkins, A.J. Green, and Andy Dalton. Since Green and Dalton are unable to negotiate a new contract until after their respective third seasons, that means the obvious attention falls on Geno Atkins.

During his update following a conference call with Dunlap on Tuesday, Joe Reedy with the Cincinnati Enquirer wrote that a deal with Atkins is optimistic.

Atkins is in line to earn at least $9 million next season since the Bengals would apply the franchise tag if they are unable to reach an extension by March. There is optimism that a deal could be reached by the start of the regular season.

Jason La Canfora with CBSSports.com wrote last month that the two sides are "miles apart".

The Bengals know they need Atkins (a fourth-round pick in 2010), but at this stage of the game I'd expect him to end up where Johnson is now, on the franchise tag. The numbers exchanged by the sides thus far are miles apart from what I've heard, and the reality is Haloti Ngata's $12.2-million-a-year deal with Baltimore in 2011, in which he made $27 million in the first year of the contract and $40 million over the first two years, has to be the floor here, in terms of numbers. Atkins has outperformed Ngata the past two seasons and could make the case for more cash.

Don't worry. Even though he's playing the final year on his current contract, Atkins will be playing for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2014. Either on the franchise tag or contract extension, he will be in Cincinnati.

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