As the offseason winds down and the regular season rapidly approaches, we’re officially in extension season in Cincinnati.
The main storyline this summer has been the continual efforts to reach new contracts with Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap before they begin their final season under their current deals. They are the stars on defense and have been consistent forces for this entire decade, but they aren’t the only ones looking for new money.
Cornerback Darqueze Dennard and tight end Tyler Kroft are also both entering the final year of their deals, and it’s been speculated that the team would also be interested in getting them on the books for the foreseeable future as well.
Geoff Hobson of bengals.com recently confirmed that speculation:
They really want to get Atkins and Dunlap done and that’s where the emphasis is, but they’d also like to get something done with other key guys heading into their contract seasons, such as cornerback Darqueze Dennard and tight end Tyler Kroft. If they’re not talking now, they will.
Not a real shocking revelation, considering Atkins and Dunlap are and should be the priority over the other two.
In addition, negotiations for Dennard and Kroft should be easier in comparison considering both of them don’t have much experience as starters and share modest production at best due to lack of on-field exposure up until last season.
As the starting slot defender, Dennard reached 78.4 percent of the defense’s snap count. His previous high was in 2016 when he didn’t even reach a third of the defensive snaps.
As a 16-game starter at tight end, Kroft participated in 85.8 percent of the offensive snaps. He also saw a considerable increase in usage as his previous high was 39.1 percent in 2016. There was actually a report earlier this offseason the Bengals may prioritize an extension for Kroft over Eifert.
While Dennard’s expected to play around that snap percentage this season as the incumbent starter at his position, Kroft’s usage entirely depends on the health of Tyler Eifert, who will start over him if he’s injury-free.
Both players had solid seasons in their first campaigns as starters and have set their value at a rate worth extending, and the Bengals want to lock into that value sooner rather than later in case it increases for both of them in 2019.