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Bengals salary cap breakdown: Defensive end

Dunlap makes almost as much as the rest of the defensive ends combined.

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Even after a subpar 2016 season, the Cincinnati Bengals' defensive ends will be paid nicely in 2017.

According to Spotrac, the Bengals have committed $16,202,595 to defensive ends for the 2017 season, the 11th-most of any NFL team. That’s about 9.9% of the money the Bengals have doled out across all position groups this year. A big reason for the position’s large collective salary is the presence of veterans Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap.

Johnson is making a respectable $5.12 million in 2016, despite his play being anything but respectable last year. According to Pro Football Focus, Johnson finished 2016 ranked 105th out of 109 eligible edge defenders (3-4 outside linebackers and 4-3 defensive ends). That makes him one of, if not the most overpaid Bengal entering the 2017 season.

That couldn’t be any more different for his running mate. Dunlap has become one of the NFL’s best defensive ends in recent years, enough that he could easily be making more than the $7.25 million he’s set to make this year. He finished 2016 ranked as PFF’s 15th-best edge defender.

After Dunlap and Johnson, the Bengals won’t be paying any other defensive end more than $1.4 million. Wallace Gilberry is set to make a respectable $1.35 million in 2017, though only $300,000 of it is guaranteed. Being that he can play both tackle and end, he’s likely to make the final roster.

Every other defensive end will make less than one million dollars. A big reason why is the rest of them are still on or beginning their rookie deals, including Chris Smith, Will Clarke, Marcus Hardison, Jordan Willis and Ryan Brown.

Of that group, Clarke has the highest 2017 cap hit at a mere $851,345. He also has one of the ‘bigger’ dead cap numbers at $136,345. The biggest dead cap number of that group is Willis $904,400, followed by Hardison at $172,846. Smith and Brown don’t have any dead camp money attached to their deals, making them much easier to cut if these battles for roster spots are close.

Even if you factor in hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker Carl Lawson, he’s only making $628,155 this year while signed to a four-year, $3,052,620 deal. And when you factor in that two to three of these players will be gone as final cuts are made, the Bengals will end up committing somewhere around $15 million to their defensive ends in 2017.

Here's a look at the salary cap breakdown for all of the Bengals defensive ends, courtesy of Over The Cap: