The Bengals got one extension done this week with head coach Marvin Lewis.
They hope it's the first of several they can complete for the team in the coming weeks and months, as a number of key starters are set to have their contracts expire in 2016. Two of the players they're working to re-sign now are cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and guard Kevin Zeitler.
Because each were first-round picks in 2012, they still could have their fifth-year options picked up for 2015. However, Geoff Hobson reports Cincinnati would rather get Zeitler and Kirkpatrick signed to long-term deals:
Their focus right now is trying to get extensions with both cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and right guard Kevin Zeitler before May 4. That’s when they have to decide if they place a fifth-year option on them. That would cost them $8 million for Kirkpatrick and $6 million for Zeitler next year, so they have to get those cap numbers down and that’s a big priority at the moment.
Teams can execute this fifth-year option but it comes with a cost; anyone drafted in the top-10 will receive compensation similar to that of the transition tag and anyone drafted outside of the top-10 will receive the average of the third through 25th highest paid players at that their respective position.
If the Bengals exercise the fifth-year option, they'll have until May 3 to trigger it. Because both players were selected outside of the top-10, their compensation will be the average salary of the top-25 players at their respective position -- excluding the two highest-paid players.
Former NFL agent Joel Corry projects that fifth-year option for cornerbacks (Kirkpatrick) will be (approximately) $7.5 million; for the offensive line (Kevin Zeitler) the number reaches $8 million. There is no difference in the fifth-year option salary for offensive lineman, as centers and guards are viewed the same, as an offensive tackle.