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Marvin Lewis: Geathers Did Everything We've Asked And Done It Right

"Robert has done everything we've asked and done everything right. He's not been as effective pass rusher, but he does good job playing the right gaps," Lewis said. "Antwan getting back to the way he played in '09 (eight sacks in the first three games) is going to be big for him. He knows that. It's important to him."

Marvin Lewis quote on Robert Geathers and Antwan Odom in a recent Joe Reedy article discussing the defensive line's future and potential draft picks. Cincinnati's future at defensive end is murky, at best. Pricey contracts that's lacked quality returns has caused enough suspicion that Geathers or Odom could be on the chopping block, while the team looks to tangle themselves in the deep prospect pool at the position in the NFL Draft.

Then again, Lewis is not absolutely convinced the position is really that deep.

"There's some depth but at the end of the day I don't think there are going to be the stars that people think there are."

But couldn't a defensive end drafted in the third or fourth round give the Bengals the same level of production as Geathers and Odom, who combined for one quarterback sack last year, costing the team a combined $6.65 million in base salary? Additionally, the combined salaries for both players grows at $8.45 million in 2011 and $9.5 million in 2012. This is the defensive end duo that's combined for 18 quarterback sacks in the past three seasons, playing a combined 64 games. Then there's the injuries and a four-game suspension to Odom that's forced him to miss 26 of 48 possible regular season games dating back to 2008.

Save for guys like Andre Smith and Chad Ochocinco, Lewis tends to be diplomatic with players. So it's not a surprise that he wouldn't throw Geathers and Odom under the bus, electing to promote hopeful returns in 2011. But at some point the Bengals have to move beyond two of the costliest players on the team that give back such limited production.