Looking back at the 2010 draft class, the Cincinnati Bengals netted two of the best players in the history of their team.
In the second round of that crop, the team selected Carlos Dunlap, while also adding defensive tackle Geno Atkins in the fourth round.
Both are still on the team and entering their ninth seasons and have become staples of the defense. Dunlap is the team’s career leader in quarterback sacks with 64.5 and set a single-season franchise record in the category with 13.5 in 2015. Atkins is paving his way to Canton, as he has six Pro Bowl berths to his name.
And, both are likely to get big extensions this offseason. Vice president Troy Blackburn recently spoke to Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com on the topic while in Orlando for the owner’s meetings.
“In our football business, you pay for high end talent and Geno has been at the top of our industry for a long time,” Blackburn said. “And we think he can continue to do that and that’s why we’re trying to see what the opportunities are going forward.”
Atkins just turned 30, but he seems to keep evading Father Time. He is coming off of one of his most productive seasons as a pro, racking up nine sacks, 47 total tackles and one of those aforementioned Pro Bowl berths.
“We always try to do deals that work for the team and the player. These days guys are playing longer than they used to and they take good care of themselves, so we’ll see where things go,” Katie Blackburn added. “We have tried not to do a deal in our minds that would put a lot of dead cap money in there. Geno’s been a good player. He has some good football ahead of him.”
Dunlap has had a little bit of a dip in production since that record-setting 2015 campaign, but still logged six of his seven sacks of 2017 in the final half of the year. He also doesn’t turn 30 until February of 2019, making the team comfortable in extending him as well.
It’s hard to say what these extensions will look like financially, but it might seem as if they might be the last contracts they receive—at least with the Bengals. With the desire to get these deals done, Cincinnati seems to have learned the tough lesson taught by Andrew Whitworth’s departure and subsequent high-level play with Los Angeles last year.
Blackburn also noted that the team will be looking at extensions for the tight end duo of Tyler Kroft and C.J. Uzomah. Even though they re-signed Tyler Eifert this offseason, it’s just a one-year prove-it deal, so having long-term plans is a wise strategy.