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Bengals won’t let Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins leave Cincinnati

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The Bengals are working hard to get new contracts done for two of their best players. Will it happen before Week 1?

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

If you were to rank the Bengals’ best players, Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins would be near the top.

Atkins is probably the team’s best player, and Dunlap is easily one of the top five Bengals as well, not to mention one of the league’s better defensive ends. And if you factor in durability (no missed games over last four years), they’ve easily been the two most consistent players on the team.

That’s why getting one, if not both players signed to new long-term deals will be among Cincinnati’s biggest goals this offseason.

Bengals.com’s Geoff Hobson has some encouraging news on the subject, saying “From what I can gather, they’re not going to let either guy walk.”

That certainly indicates the Bengals are doing everything in their power to get both players extended before the season. There’s always a chance one of them doesn’t get extended in 2018, but perhaps the Bengals are willing to use the franchise tag.

That’s probably not happening for Dunlap, as the tag for ends costs around $17 million in 2019. As good as Dunlap is, that’s probably too steep of a price for the Bengals to stomach. The good news there is he recently said the two sides are making progress toward an extension.

If Dunlap gets re-signed and Atkins enters 2019 without a new deal, the franchise tag cost for him will be around $14 million. That’s a hefty price to pay, but for one of the 2-3 best interior lineman in football, you can make the case for the tag being worth it.

That’s one way to ensure both players are under contract through 2019, but the most ideal scenario is both players get extensions by Week 1 of the 2018 season. Having both of them hit free agency in 2019 would make it much likelier one of them ends up elsewhere, if not both.

Both defenders have spent their entire pro careers in Cincinnati after joining the team in the 2010 NFL Draft. They’ve been paid handsomely after signing extensions prior to their rookie contracts expiring, but they’ll look to continue being paid the big bucks in the near future.

Age will certainly be a factor in their next contracts, as Atkins is set to turn 30 in March, while Dunlap turns 29 in February. Saying this, both players played at a very high level this past season, enough to think they have several good years left in them.

After watching Andrew Whitworth leave last offseason after appearing to be locked into finishing his career in Cincinnati, don’t assume Atkins and Dunlap will be here in 2019, but perhaps losing Whitworth will help ensure the team doesn’t make the same mistake with these two defenders. Dunlap is set to make $7.3 million in 2018, while Atkins will count for $9.5 million.

It seems the Bengals are doing everything in their power to keep those two until they retire. Hopefully that leads to extensions for both players at some point in 2018.