As NFL free agency begins this week, it’s looking more and more like Geno Atkins has played his last down for the Cincinnati Bengals.
To this point, the belief has been Atkins will ultimately be released by the Bengals around the start of free agency, which officially begins March 15, and free agents can officially sign contracts when the league year starts at 3 pm ET on March 17.
However, it appears the Bengals are trying a last-ditch effort to trade Atkins and get some type of compensation.
Sports Illustrated reporter Albert Breer listed Atkins as one of several big-name veterans being floated on the trade market, though he added the Bengals defender will “probably be cut if he’s not traded.”
If the Bengals are somehow able to trade Atkins, my guess is it would be for just a late-round NFL Draft pick, possibly even a conditional one.
Due to Atkins’ cap hit this season, it’s very likely his Bengals career is over unless he restructures his contract. The team can cut him this offseason and save almost $10 million in salary cap space, though they will be on the hook for $2.6 million in each of the next two seasons.
An 11th-year veteran and eight-time Pro Bowl selection, Atkins is coming off his worst season as a pro, which was partly due to a lingering right shoulder injury he sustained near the end of training camp.
Atkins, who turns 33 on March 28, missed Cincinnati’s first four games last season due to the injury and never played 20 or more snaps in any of the eight games he has played in. He failed to record a sack and finished with just one tackle and one QB hit, earning him a 54.0 PFF grade, by far the worst of his career.
Despite a poor 2020 season, Atkins has still made a strong case as the greatest defensive lineman to ever play in Cincinnati. He’s played in 161 career games (134 starts), and stands third in team history with 75.5 sacks.
The former Georgia Bulldogs star has consistently been among the NFL’s best interior pass-rushers, as he’s produced pressure up the middle as well as anyone over the last decade.
Here’s to hoping wherever Atkins is next season, he gets back to playing at a high level and gets a chance to win his first playoff game.