The Bengals defensive line is the best in the league as players, especially Geno Atkins, have begun to get some national attention. The Bengals lead the league in sacks this season, mostly because the defensive line has excelled at rushing the passer, but they have also excelled against the run as well.
The longest-tenured Bengal who was drafted by the team is defensive end Robert Geathers. He was selected in the fourth round of the 2004 draft and has been listed as a starter for much of his career here in Cincinnati. He has started every game this season, even though he's listed as Carlos Dunlap's backup at defensive end and has played fewer snaps.
Geathers signed a six-year extension after the 2007 season, and now that the deal is coming to an end, he sees the end of his career in Cincinnati. However, he has said that he would like to stay.
"It's the last year of my deal," said Geathers, who signed a six-year contract extension before the 2007 season. "I don't dwell on it too much, but it's definitely in the back of my mind."
"We'll handle that when it gets there," Geathers said. "With what we've got going on, I'd love to be back. I would."
The real question will be whether or not the Bengals will pay the price to have him back. Geathers wouldn't necessarily be a cheap player to sign and the Bengals have to worry about extending the contracts of Carlos Dunlap, Geno Atkins, Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, as well as re-signing the other defensive end, Michael Johnson, and linebacker Rey Maualuga as well as others. With Johnson and Dunlap excelling as pass rushers from the defensive end position, it's unlikely that the Bengals would be willing to cut a large check to keep Geathers around.
That doesn't mean that head coach Marvin Lewis isn't happy with what Geathers has given the team in his time in Cincinnati.
"He's done so many great things since he's been here," Lewis said. "From obviously playing defensive end, but one year we played him at linebacker. His professionalism bears out day in and day out. He's just such a great role model for all these young guys."
Defensive tackle Domata Peko echoes Lewis' feelings on Geathers, saying that he brings a lot to the table.
"Robert is a helluva player," Bengals defensive tackle Domata Peko said. "He's really stout versus the run and he can get after the passer, too. He does it all....He just brings a lot to the table, not only on the field but off the field. He's a helluva leader in the locker room and gets guys going. He's just one of those guys that you want on your team."
As far as his health, Geathers feels well rested, which he can thank a very deep and talented defensive line and a heavy rotation that has kept the entire line fresh and well rested heading into the post season. Geathers is thankful for the youthful guys on the line with him as it has kept them all well rested and has also added to the line's character.
"I'm good," Geathers said. "I don't think anybody on this D-line is worn out because we've been able to rotate so much. So I think we're ready for the late-season push into the playoffs.
"This should be exciting. It's definitely a different feel for me, just the energy we have. I think the youth plays into that and just the character of these guys, the guys we've got in the locker room, that falls in there, too."
Geathers has contributed a lot to the Bengals in his time with the team and has become a fixture on the defensive line, but with young and talented pass rushers like Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap, there may not be a future for him in Cincinnati. If that is the case, there's no question that he'll likely be picked up as a free agent by another team for a decent contract.
Would you welcome back Geathers to the Bengals or do you think it's time to move on?