Can the Bengals extend Dre Kirkpatrick and Kevin Zeitler now that the Bengals are reportedly triggering their fifth-year option?
Keep in mind that since the Bengals triggered the fifth-year option for wide receiver A.J. Green, they've held negotiations with Green's representatives as recently as the NFL Scouting Combine in February. There is nothing preventing the Bengals from doing the same thing with Kirkpatrick and Zeitler.
Will the Bengals extend Kirkpatrick and Zeitler?
They will try... and it makes sense for them.
The fifth-year option for Zeitler and Kirkpatrick will cost $8.07 million and $7.507 million respectively in 2016, which currently ranks as the third and fourth highest cap numbers in 2016 -- the Bengals have 527,432 players headed to free agency after 2015 so this ranking is a bit skewed.
The Bengals are reportedly interested (extremely?) in getting Kirkpatrick and Zeitler signed to long-term deals before taking the brunt of those fifth-year options.
For Zeitler, the fifth-year option is the average salary of the top offensive linemen (minus the top two highest paid players) and not just guards. That average includes costly left tackles who exponentially inflate those numbers for guards and centers.
The Bengals have no obvious interest in paying Zeitler that much, which is a bit high when you factor Clint Boling's $4.75 million cap number in 2016 -- a projected cap number of $12.82 million between two starting guards.
While extending Zeitler is a priority, it's even more of one with Dre Kirkpatrick -- he's only started five games in his career and played 611 defensive snaps over the last two years (mostly in relief for injured players). That averages out to 20 snaps/game.
He's had some big moments -- notably the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos last year, which WAS huge -- but a greater argument could be made that the Bengals shouldn't have triggered Kirkpatrick's fifth-year option, and risk a higher price tag once he proved that he deserves this level of compensation. Is he worth $7.507 million?