Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins signed a five-year, $55 million contract extension.
Atkins can earn $31 million in the first three years of the new deal, which will also pay him $22 million guaranteed by March 2014.
"He keeps getting better," coach Marvin Lewis said of Atkins last month. "He can be in practice, and say, 'it's time to shut the offense down. Then he just dominates."
Atkins is one of the top "three technique" defensive tackles in the NFL. His contract reflects that status. Only Baltimore Ravens' defensive lineman Haloti Ngata (five years, $61 million), who signed his long-term contract in Sept. 2011, has a higher-paying deal among interior defensive lineman.
"Geno has been a wonderful player for us, and we are excited to be able to reward his high level of play and to secure his future here in Cincinnati," said Katie Blackburn, Bengals executive vice president, in a news release. "Geno is a special asset -- a great person as well as an exceptional player -- and we want to continue investing in players that play at a high level and help us win."
Atkins is the 12th player from the 2012 playoff roster to sign a new contract with the Bengals since the end of last season. According to the team, they've allocated $180 million in "new cash" in 2013.
Atkins, 25, was a fourth-round pick in 2010 and had 12.5 sacks in 2012. The two-time Pro Bowl pick has 23 career sacks despite starting just one game as a rookie.
"Geno's extension is exciting news," Lewis said. "It puts the issue of his future behind him and the club and allows his focus to be on football and on a great start to our season."
The Bengals haven't been bashful with their praise for Atkins but pushed to get him under contract even with the leverage of using the franchise designation in 2014. That deal would've been valued at $8.55 million barring an unexpected adjustment to the league-wide salary cap of $123 million per team.
Atkins is the son of former NFL safety Gene Atkins.