We talk about how good Geno Atkins is all the time on this site. We also talk about how this position does not receive the recognition it deserves, so I will save that.
Pro Football Focus rates Atkins as the highest rated defensive lineman with a grade of 80.0. Just for reference, they have Gerald McCoy 2nd at 31.2. Currently Atkins is in the final year of a rookie contract that pays $3.2 million. He is obviously a target for an extension by the Bengals and I am sure they have done the preliminary work to come up with some options.
The website Spotrac does forecasting for professional athletes contracts and has set its focus on Atkins. Take a look at the site; the level of information they use to compute their guesstimate is impressive. Some highlights from their findings are:
Our results here show that Atkins is far and away in a class of his own statistically. He gets to the quarterback, stops the run, avoids penalties, and can do all this in solo-fashion as well.
The above quote was used in comparison to other lineman consisting of Jay Ratlif, Haloti Ngata, Kyle Williams and Barry Cofield. That is some strong comparison company.
Atkins has shown the three major keys to earning himself a highly guaranteed contract: Production, Improvement, and Durability. Atkins is a diamond in the rough for the Bengals, and has stayed under the radar until Mid-2012 when his on-field performance really got some national presence. He's entering a contract year in 2013, and will require more than the going rate.
Spotrac computes the numbers as six years $62,744,621 with $28.6 guaranteed. That would give Geno a per year earning of just over 10 million. This is serious cash and would put him at the top for defensive lineman on a secondary contract.