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9 Bengals are taking up most of the cap space in 2018

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The Bengals have some pretty big checks to sign in 2018, but which players will be getting the biggest ones?

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals-Training Camp Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

It usually isn’t polite to count someone else’s money, but it essentially comes with the job of being a professional athlete.

Especially in sports that have a salary cap in the name of competitive fairness, how much a player is getting payed says everything about how that team values that player. After all, how much a team is spending on that player is money they could be spending on another.

The list is based on the players who will provide the biggest cap hits in 2018, which is based on a player’s salary and other various bonuses the player is scheduled to receive that season. Also all numbers can be attributed to the wonderful Spotrac.

9). Michael Johnson, defensive end

Cap hit: $6,112,500

Percentage of cap: 3.15 percent

Johnson is entering the final year of his contract that reunited him with the team that drafted him. He clearly isn’t the same player he once was, but he still provides a great veteran presence for a position that is dominated by youth.

There is a possibility that the team could part ways with Johnson on their journey to the 53-man roster, and his contract could be a very attractive reason why. If the Bengals released Johnson they would save roughly $5 million in cap space. Not to mention the Bengals already seem to have young replacements lined up at the position with Jordan Willis, Carl Lawson and Sam Hubbard all being drafted in the past two seasons.

8). Carlos Dunlap, defensive end*

Cap hit: $7,300,000

Percentage of cap: 3.76 percent

Dunlap could end up being extended at any point before the season. 2018 is the final year of his contract, and these numbers could change based on whatever extension he signs. Dunlap has been one of the most productive defenders for the Bengals as he has recorded at least eight sacks the past four seasons. He is also incredible at timing his jumps to swat down passes at the line of scrimmage.

Dunlap’s place on this list shows he is viewed as one of the foundation pieces for this team heading into the future.

7). Darqueze Dennard. corner back

Cap hit: $8,526,000

Percentage of cap: 4.4 percent

Dennard’s place on this list is surprising given the names surrounding him. This is more based on the fact the Bengals picked up his rookie contract’s fifth-year option, which usually pays the players pretty well. Dennard has the 16th highest cap hit of any corner in 2018.

Dennard has only started a handful of games, but he did see the second most defensive snaps of any player on the defense last season. Part of that is due to how often the Bengals were in their nickel defense, Adam Jones getting hurt and the Bengals taking their sweet time to really start playing William Jackson, but the team obviously had plans for Dennard last season. Whether the team will retain him will remain to be seen, but considering they already payed Dre Kirkpatrick it is pretty doubtful.

6). Vontaze Burfict, linebacker

Cap hit: $8,619,375

Percentage of cap: 4.44

Burfict is clearly one of the team’s biggest emotional leaders, but over the recent seasons he hasn’t been able to be counted on as much. He has often been either injured or suspended, and this year is no different as he will miss the first four games of the season.

Burfict’s contract is also interesting, because he is entering the first year of his 3-year $32.5 million extension. However, it is very much an incentive driven deal that basically allows the Bengals the freedom of cutting ties with the linebacker at almost any time. Eache season he has a good chunk of money tied up in his roster bonus, and his salary is back loaded, so he doesn’t really see all of that money unless he sticks around till the end. Plus his dead cap hits are relatively low each season.

Basically, the Bengals created a contract that will pay Burfict pretty well, but if he has a major slip up then the team can just as easily drop him. It may be the ultimate incentive to stay out of trouble.

5). Geno Atkins, defensive tackle*

Cap hit: $9,550,000

Percentage of cap: 4.92 percent

Atkins also receives an asterisks due to the possibility of him getting a contract extension at any point as 2018 is the last year of his contract.

He has proven to be one of the Bengals most important players. He led the team in sacks last season, and his presence can open up opportunities for other defensive linemen to take advantage of one-on-one situations. There is no question that this team would suffer by losing Atkins in free agency.

It is surprising to see his name this low, but when you consider his position and when he signed his contract last it makes sense. The names in front of him has either signed a contract more recently, or they play a more premium position.

4). Dre Kirkpatrick, corner back

Cap Hit: $9,568,750

Percentage of cap: 4.93 percent

Kikrpatrick is probably the most out of place name on this list, but it was a matter of the Bengals probably fearing that they’d have to rely on young corners like Dennard and Jackson too soon, which in hindsight was silly. Cincinnati also seems to prefer veteran players almost to a fault sometimes.

Kirkpatrick has his moments where he really makes you think he is a very good corner, but the problem has always seemed to be consistency with him. He often gets called for penalties or burned as often as he makes a play on the ball.

His value to the team goes beyond the field though as he is now the oldest member of the Bengals secondary, and he is being tasked with bringing along rookies Darius Phillips and Davontae Harris.

It should also be noted the Bengals have some potential outs the next few seasons as his dead cap hit drops to $4.2 million in 2019 and only $2.8 in 2020. We will have to see how far along the rookies are by that time.

3). Cordy Glenn, offensive tackle

Cap hit: $11,250,000

Percentage of cap: 5.8 percent

Glenn is in the third season of his five year $60 million contract that he signed originally with the Bills. The Bengals obviously took on the contract when they traded for the tackle by swapping first round picks in the 2018 draft.

The Bengals absolutely had to address this position after Cedric Ogbuehi failed to fill Andrew Whitworth’s shoes last season. The offensive line was a wreck that caused the Bengals to turn the 12th overall pick into a new left tackle and center as well as change coaches. Glenn is widely regarded as a premiere tackle when healthy, so it seems to be a matter of making sure his health is okay.

Potentially after this season the Bengals could part ways with Glenn without suffering any dead cap in the 2019 or 2020 seasons. They would also save over $9 million in cap each of those seasons. Of course if Glenn is the player we expect then there will be no reason to do that.

2). A.J. Green, wide receiver

Cap hit: $13,750,000

Percentage of cap: 7.09 percent

No surprises here that Green is one of the highest paid Bengals in 2018. He has been a top tier since he was drafted in 2011. H only has one season where he failed to reach 1,000 yards, which was due to getting injured.

He is the best offensive weapon the Bengals have, and he is paid like it. He only has two seasons remaining on his contract though, so we shouldn’t be surprised to see him get an extension next offseason at some point as the Bengals would be foolish to even let him sniff free agency.

1). Andy Dalton, quarterback

Cap hit: $16,300,000

Percentage of cap: 8.4 percent

The least surprising news of the day is that the quarterback of a team is taking up the most cap space. Dalton’s contract was widely ridiculed when it was first signed, but now it is viewed as a bargain.

Dalton has the 17th highest cap hit in the 2018 season, and as quarterbacks keep lining up for extensions that ranking will continue to go down. Dalton also has three more seasons left on his deal, and in 2019 and 2020 the Bengals won’t have to worry about dead cap if the want to part ways with the quarterback.

Dalton’s lack of playoff success will have most fans grumbling over this, but the fact is the Bengals have been pretty savvy about how they have payed their players. In this case it created a pretty big bargain at the quarterback position.