BREAKING: Atkins and Bengals agree to a five-year extension

John Grieshop

Traditional to the Bengals usual methods, they will sign players to extensions just prior to the start of the regular season. This tradition continues with superstar defensive tackle Geno Atkins.

The Cincinnati Bengals and defensive tackle Geno Atkins have agreed to an extension, originally reported by Joe Reedy with the Cincinnati Enquirer. According to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, the five-year extension is worth $55 million. Atkins will earn $22 million of that money in the first six months, and $36 million in new money during the first three years of the extension. It's also the second-most lucrative contract for a defensive tackle behind Haloti Ngata, who signed a five-year deal worth $61 million with $37.1 million guaranteed.

According to Joe Reedy with the Cincinnati Enquirer, Atkins cap number in '13 is $7 million. It jumps to $9.3 million in '14.

Atkins was originally entering the final year of his rookie contract and many view him as one of (if not the) best three-technique defensive tackles in the NFL. Dating back to 2010, Atkins has generated 23 quarterback sacks, including a team-leading 12.5 sacks in 2012 -- that ranks third for a single-season in franchise history. Atkins has also generated 135 quarterback pressures, 81 quarterback hurries, and an additional 29 quarterback hits since entering the NFL.

Over two months ago, Jason La Canfora with CBSSports.com wrote that significant differences remained between Atkins' representatives and the organization, suggesting that the "numbers exchanged by the sides thus far are miles apart from what I've heard." When the team traveled to Atlanta for joint practices and the preseason opener against the Falcons, Atkins reportedly spent significant time with his agents Pat Dye and Bill Johnson. The sides have been speaking about an extension dating back to January during the Senior Bowl and have continued with infrequent dialogue since.

The Bengals entered the offseason wanting to secure their core defensive players to long-term extensions. After applying the franchise tag on Michael Johnson, they tried signing the fifth-year defensive end to a five-year extension worth $40 million prior to the July 15 deadline. He refused. Cincinnati quickly announced a five-year extension for Carlos Dunlap instead, totaling $95 million worth of extensions to Atkins and Dunlap in the past month and $180 million in total money in free agency and re-signing their own.

Cincinnati has a tradition of finalizing extensions prior to the team's regular season opener. In 2011, they announced extensions with Andrew Whitworth, Leon Hall, and Kyle Cook.

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