Defensive tackle figures to be a strength for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2017.
Pretty much any defensive tackle group that features Geno Atkins should be among the NFL’s best, but unfortunately, that’s not always been the case. A big reason why has been Domata Peko failing to be a suitable starter alongside Atkins during the last six years.
However, Peko left this offseason to sign with the Denver Broncos, removing the $4-plus million from the salary cap, which he’s been earning from the Bengals since 2009. In his place, the Bengals will be relying on a player still on his rookie contract, Andrew Billings. After missing all of his rookie season due to a knee injury, Billings is set to make a modest $598,961 in 2017, which is actually just the fifth-highest cap hit of any defensive tackle on the Bengals’ roster.
According to Spotrac, the Bengals are committing $16,285,296 to defensive tackles this year, which accounts for 10.38 percent of the team’s overall cap space. Almost all of it is going to Atkins, who is set to make $10,600,000 in 2017. If cut (not happening), the Bengals would have a dead cap hit of $3,000,000. That actually drops to zero dollars next year, but even so, Atkins isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
In fact, Atkins is the only tackle making more than $1.1 million (Pat Sims will make $1.07 million) in 2017. Sims is the only other Bengals making even one million dollars, and the dead cap for him is zero dollars if released. That makes his job security very sketchy with talented youngsters like DeShawn Williams, David Dean and Josh Tupou pushing for his job. Plus, there’s fourth-round rookie Ryan Glasgow, who figures to have his roster spot secured, as he’ll make a modest $569,912 this year with a dead cap hit of $419,648 if waived.
Another veteran fighting for a roster spot is Brandon Thompson, who missed all of last season while recovering from an ACL tear. He’s set to make $805,000 this year. If released, the Bengals would have no dead cap hit.
Here is a contract breakdown of all the Bengals’ defensive tackles, courtesy of Over The Cap: