The Cincinnati Bengals have been awash in mostly positive vibes this offseason.
They are routinely mentioned among the AFC's sleeper Super Bowl picks among the pundits. "Hard Knocks" has raised their profile, and virtually nothing controversial has emerged from the show. And now, perhaps their best player will be locked up for the foreseeable future.
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Per league source, Bengals and Geno Atkins have agreed to an extension
— Joe Reedy (@joereedy) September 2, 2013
The two sides had been talking for weeks now, and Reedy has supplied the financial details of the deal: five years and $55 million, second only among NFL defensive linemen to Baltimore's Haloti Ngata, who signed for five years, $61 million two years ago.
Atkins might be the league's best three-technique defensive lineman, and he's the centerpiece of what looks like a strong defense in Cincy that could propel the team to new heights. If the team is going to live up to its favorite status, you can bet Atkins will be in the middle of things, helping wreck opposing blocking schemes.
The team now has taken care of Atkins and defensive end Carlos Dunlap, perhaps with Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, whose contracts have a few years left apiece, next on the menu. That could mean that defensive end Michael Johnson, who was franchised this season, could play out the final year of his deal in 2013 and be allowed to hit the open market next March.