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Andy Dalton and Vontaze Burfict get extension offers; Contract Thunderdome?

Are the Cincinnati Bengals giving out contract extensions to both Andy Dalton and Vontaze Burfict, or is it just a deal for whoever accepts it first?

Over the past week, the Cincinnati Bengals have made contract offers to quarterback Andy Dalton and linebacker Vontaze Burfict.

Dalton, who's won 30 games and made the playoffs in each of his three years in the NFL, figures to be getting a deal that pays him somewhere between $15-18 million annually.

Burfict, who's established himself as one of the best backers in the league in just two seasons, also figures to draw and extension that pays him around $7-10 million annually.

With the Bengals having just under $25 million in cap space with an entire rookie class to still sign, it's going to be hard to sign both Dalton and Burfict to an extension in the same offseason.

Could this be the latest case of Contract Thunderdome?

If you followed former Bengals Beat Writer Joe Reedy, you'd know this was how he described situations with the Bengals when they had two players they made one contract offer to, and whoever took it first got the deal, while the other was left without one.

During Mike Brown's tenure as the Bengals owner, whenever he's had two players seeking long-term extensions with the team, Brown has occasionally given them both a contract offer. Whoever took it first got the deal, while the other was never given a deal, and eventually would leave in free agency.

Last year, the Bengals did this twice. The first was with kickers Josh Brown and Mike Nugent. After an injury in 2012 sidelined Nugent for the final month of the '12 season, Brown was signed to fill-in for him, and performed admirably down the stretch.

Heading into the 2013 free agency period, both Nugent and Brown were offered a similar contract, and Nugent was the first to take it. Brown left an eventually signed with the New York Giants.

The Bengals deployed this strategy again with Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson, and once Dunlap took the offer, Johnson was left without a real contract offer until free agency of the following offseason (when it was more of a formality that he was gone).

Those are two examples of players playing the same position and competing for one contract. Dalton and Burfict play on two sides of the ball, so the Bengals should want to sign both to long-term deals.

Going back to the cap situation though, this would prove to be challenging. Perhaps, the Bengals have issued an ultimatum to them: Take the deal or wait until the next offseason.

Unlike the Brown/Nugent and Dunlap/Johnson scenarios, the Bengals aren't letting Dalton or Burfict leave next year. However, they could be willing to make one of them wait to get their first big NFL contract, as both are still playing under their rookie deals.

Based on the most recent news with the Bengals and Burfict being close to a deal, one has to wonder if Dalton isn't ready to bet on himself and wait until the next offseason to get the biggest deal possible form the Bengals.

In the end, this may come down to who wants the money more right now and who is willing to hold out for potentially more money in the future.