When the Bengals open the 2015 season, they'll do so with a host of key players in the final year of their contracts.
One of them will be free safety George Iloka, who, as of now, is set to make $1.58 million this season. That's extremely cheap when you consider Iloka was quietly one of the best safeties in football in 2014.
Pro Football Focus graded George Iloka as Cincinnati's top defensive player with an overall grade of +9.4 in addition to being tied for the NFL's 12 ranked safety. PFF also rated Iloka second on the team in run defense (+3.6) and pass coverage (+3.9). Opposing quarterbacks targeted Iloka 31 times in the 2014 regular season, but completed just 12 passes (38.7 percent) for 176 yards. He didn't allow a TD during the regular season while opposing passers had a QB rating of 42.1.
All of this played a major role in former Bucs GM and current ESPN analyst Mark Dominick having Iloka on his ultimate 53-man roster.
George Iloka, Cincinnati Bengals ($1,582,075): Iloka gives me a smart player who can handle either safety position, while still being a productive player (74 tackles, 3 INTs in 2014).
The goal of this was for Dominick to assemble the best possible 53-man NFL roster under the salary cap, using each player's 2015 cap charge.
A lot of the players on this list were guys, like Iloka, still on their rookie deals. Colts QB Andrew Luck, Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell, Panthers LB Luke Kuechly, and Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. were also on the list.
Anytime you're mentioned in that kind of company, it shows you're a special player. Iloka is just that, and the Bengals need to do everything in their power to get him signed to a long-term deal before he becomes a free agent next year.