What a day at the office for the Brown family and Duke Tobin. It’s not everyday that the Bengals make two huge moves, much less give out more than $100 million in extensions, but Tuesday gave us just that.
While the news of extensions to Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins is overwhelmingly positive for the fans and the franchise, there are some who have to be looking over their shoulder going forward. Here are the biggest winners and losers on the Bengals following the big news on Tuesday.
The Bengals defense: The unit, as a whole, should continue to thrive with Dunlap and Atkins as its linchpins. Both have continued to look outstanding throughout much of the preseason, so signs of age have yet to hit the two Pro Bowl players.
Atkins and Dunlap: Duh. The Cincinnati Bengals rightfully awarded two of their best players of all-time with big extensions. It likely ensures they will be playing the remainder of their respective careers with the team, which has to make fans smile. Let’s hope that that the two keep up their level of play throughout at least most of the remainders of their respective deals.
Andrew Billings: Though he had an up-and-down year in his first season as a full-time NFL starter in 2017, Billings has been outstanding this preseason. As he looks to parlay his summer tape into the regular season, he will continue to be boosted by immense surrounding talent up front.
Carl Lawson: For many of the same reasons Billings is a “winner” in this scenario, Lawson is as well. He’s been a maniac in both the weight room and on-the-field this summer and should see more one-on-one matchups with Dunlap and Atkins continuing to be in the fold.
Mike Brown and the front office: The Bengals have always had the stigma of being a frugal franchise, with some examples being totally accurate and others being far overblown. Whatever the case, throwing record money at Atkins, and announcing roughly $100 million in extensions for two star players puts the much-maligned Bengals brain trust in good graces with the fan base—even if just temporarily. These moves don’t mean the Bengals aren’t cheap, but they do confirm the Bengals extend players they feel are worthy and make sense for the franchise.
Michael Johnson: The moves on Tuesday pretty much ensure that any future money for extending Johnson has dried up. Heck, we’re not even sure if he’ll make the 53-man roster or be another big cap casualty in a line of a bunch of players the Bengals parted ways with already this year (Brandon LaFell, Adam Jones and George Iloka).
Darqueze Dennard: The Bengals wanted to re-sign three defensive veterans to extensions this offseason: Atkins, Dunlap and Dennard. They should have some flexibility to get a deal done for the cornerback, but Cincinnati has been known to close the pocketbook after inking big offseason deals. We’ll see.
Ryan Hewitt: Another guy who might be looking for work soon could be the Bengals’ versatile H-Back. This isn’t an indictment of his skill set, as he can be valuable, but the team just hasn’t used him nearly enough since he signed a three-year, $7.5 million deal recently and has cap hits set around $2.4 million in 2018 and 2019. If the team needs to get creative to get a deal done for Dennard (or someone else) and playing time is projected in the same range for Hewitt this year as it was last year, he could be on the chopping block.