After a 12.5-sack season as an interior lineman and after his second straight Pro Bowl, the Bengals have begun talks with Geno Atkins to extend his contract. While attending the Senior Bowl, Atkins' agent, Pat Dye, has been in talks with the Bengals administration about an extension before Atkins becomes a free agent after the 2013 season.
"We had some dialogue down here," Pat Dye said after one of the Senior Bowl workouts. "In an ideal world, both sides would like to get something sooner rather than later. He's been to two Pro Bowls at age 24, so he's en elite player at his position. I know they recognize that. It's just a matter of sitting down and getting it done in a way that that satisfies both sides."
Atkins has become the premier interior defensive lineman in the league. He's not only the best at pressuring the quarterback from the middle of the pocket, but he has become extremely effective at stopping the run as well. Throughout the 2012 season he led the team in sacks and was rated as the top interior defensive lineman in the league by the folks at Pro Football Focus.
If the Bengals allow him to enter free agency, there's no question that several teams would be interested in locking him into a long-term deal, likely driving the price out of the Bengals budget. Extending him is likely the only option to keep Atkins in Cincinnati.