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CBS: Geno Atkins at a career crossroad in 2015

2015 will be a career crossroad for Geno Atkins, at least according to former NFL agent Joel Correy.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

2014 was a year to forget for Geno Atkins.

Sure, 34 tackles three sacks and one forced fumble are decent numbers for a defensive tackle, but not when your name starts with Geno and ends with Atkins. This was one of the most dominant players in football from 2011-13 before he tore his ACL midway through the 2013 season on Halloween.

It was clear last year that Atkins wasn't all the way back from an injury that typically NFL players take a year to fully recover from. Atkins did have flashes of his dominant self at times last year, especially toward the end of the season, but nothing close to what a player making $9 million should look like. That was painfully evident after Bengals defensive coordinator, Paul Guenther called Atkins "just a guy out there."

$9 million was Atkins' cap hit in 2014, and that number will jump to $9.6 million this year and $10.6 million in 2016. That's why CBS Sports writer and former NFL agent Joel Correy had Atkins on his list of players at a career crossroads heading into this season.

The Bengals made the two-time All-Pro one of the NFL's highest-paid defensive tackles in 2013 with a five-year, $53.327 million contract because he was a dominant interior pass rusher. Guenter may have said it best about Atkins' future in Cincinnati: "We need him to get back to where he was, being that game-wrecker there inside. Otherwise, we need to go find a new inside rusher."

Personally, I think Atkins would have to drop off to a level even worse than last year for the Bengals to cut him. They're committed to their own players, sometimes too committed, leading to guys like Atkins rarely being cut midway through a big extension like he got in 2013. Atkins is currently under contract until 2018, and there's a good chance he'll be playing in Cincinnati through the end of his deal.

After spending the offseason training, unlike in the offseason heading into last season when he was recovering and rehabbing, it's a safe bet Atkins will be a more dominant force among the Bengals' defense than he was in 2014.