Dear Cincinnati Bengals ownership,
We don’t mean the ones from Cleveland when we say this: If you don’t re-sign Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap after this year, then you can eat browns and die.
Sincerely, the fans
This could be among your thoughts this offseason. With 2018 being the contract year for these two solid defensive line players, you’d have to think (well, pray) that Mike Brown and the Cincy bigwigs will bring their checkbook and pay Dunlap and Atkins some coin to keep them around for a few more seasons.
Why the Cincinnati Bengals Must Keep Dunlap and Atkins After 2018
Atkins is a six-time Pro Bowler, including the last four years straight. Dunlap has started every game since 2013. Barring injury, he should pass Eddie Edwards’ all-time franchise sack total of 83.5 (official and unofficial) within the next two years. You don’t want to lose those kinds of players – especially when the backups are unproven.
Ryan Glasgow tallied only 23 stops in his 2017 rookie campaign. Sam Hubbard, the third-round draft pick out of Ohio State, is still learning how to carry Dunlap’s laundry. They could develop into fine football players, but they aren’t ready yet.
If that weren’t enough, we’ve already seen how losing two quality guys can affect line play. The Cincinnati Bengals’ offensive line lost Andrew Whitworth (Los Angeles Rams) and Kevin Zeitler (Cleveland Browns) after the 2016 season. You could cliff-dive off the drop in production.
From ‘16 to ‘17, the team went from 13th in the NFL in rushing (110.6 yards per game) to 31st (85.4). That put more pressure on the passing game (which you never want to be forced into), and with a lack of playmakers, the results were predictable. The Cincinnati Bengals offense couldn’t move if they hired a fleet of U-Haul vans.
Now translate that to the defense. With Dunlap and Atkins leading the way, the Bengals were tied for 11th in the league with 41 sacks. Yes, the defense ranked near the bottom in rushing yards allowed, but the point is, how much worse do those numbers get if the two best big bodies blow town? If we lose these guys, opposing running backs will be five yards downfield before Vontaze Burfict can get suspended.
That’s our two cents. So Mike Brown, make us proud. Re-sign Dunlap and don’t go on an Atkins diet. We’ve been two to three wins away from the playoff conversation over the last couple of years. The continued presence of these two could mean making it … or waiting for the next Dunlap and Atkins to come along.