Bengals give DT Geno Atkins five-year contract extension
Atkins said he appreciates the faith the Bengals showed in him by agreeing to the contract extension.
"It means a lot. Just that they believed in me," Atkins said on Monday. "That's basically going to show the younger guys that if you do the right things on and off the field that you're going to be rewarded, too."
Atkins, a fourth-round pick by the Bengals in 2010, was scheduled to earn $1.4 million in the last year of his rookie contract. The Bengals rewarded Atkins with the contract extension – which carries $36 million in the first three seasons – after he recorded a career-high 53 tackles, 12.5 sacks and four forced fumbles.
The Bengals spent more than $180 million this offseason to their team intact after reaching the playoffs in each of the past two seasons, but losing to the Houston Texans in the first round every time. A key focus of this restoration project was the Bengals’ defensive line. When the Bengals gave defensive end Carlos Dunalp a contract extension this summer, it was presumed that Atkins would be next in line to receive a new deal. Now Atkins becomes the 12th returning Bengal player to receive an extension.
Atkins said that he was relieved to have the contract situation now out of the way prior to starting the regular season. Otherwise, Atkins had the franchise tag looming ahead for him in 2014 and 2015 if a extension had not been worked out by next offseason.
"It was important because I don't have that weighing on my head or any distractions," Atkins said. "It's not, are we talking midseason or at the end of the season? Now I can just have a clear mind and go out there and try to play fast and hard and just focus on football."
The 25-year-old has become one of the NFL’s biggest inside forces in just the first three years of his careering, recording 23 sacks over 48 games with the Bengals.
"Everybody sees it. ... I don't have to hold him up, everybody sees it," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. "More than anything, it doesn't matter how you get here, what rounds -- fourth, fifth, sixth, college free agent or whatever. If you do things the correct way, you're going to have opportunity."
"Geno's been one of those players since he came here that has done a tremendous job," Bengals Lewis continued. "... Even early on as a player in practice, you knew that he had a bright future ahead of him."
Atkins’ deal is the second-most lucrative extension of any current NFL defensive tackle. Haloti Ngata previously signed a five-year, $61 contract extension with the Baltimore Ravens in 2011.