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All-Pro Geno Atkins inks $55 million extension

WYMT -- The Bengals today continued the most active signing period in franchise history, signing all-pro DT Geno Atkins to a five-year contract extension worth $55 million, running through 2018.

Prior to the signing, Atkins was in the final season of the four-year contract he signed as a fourth-round Bengals draft choice in 2010. Today’s signing marks the 12th veteran player from last year’s playoff team that the Bengals have either re-signed or extended this year.

Atkins (6-1, 303; Georgia) has risen to become one of the NFL’s elite interior defensive linemen. He was a first-team 2012 selection to the Associated Press All-Pro team, which covers both the American and National conferences, and he has been selected to two straight Pro Bowls, including this past season’s
as a starter.

“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. “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 has been durable, playing in every game since joining the Bengals, and he has been a leader in the team reaching the playoffs each of the last two seasons. He led all NFL interior linemen last year in sacks (12.5), with no other interior player above 8.0. He also had four forced fumbles, and he led the team in coaches’ compilation of tackles-for-loss (15). In 2011, he tied for the NFL sacks lead among interior linemen (7.5), and he added two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

“Geno’s extension is exciting news,” said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. “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 12 veteran players the Bengals have re-signed or extended this year all are set for key roles as Cincinnati begins pursuit of a third straight postseason berth on Sept. 8 at Chicago. Besides Atkins, the list includes DE Carlos Dunlap, DE Robert Geathers, DE Wallace Gilberry, LS Clark Harris, P Kevin Huber, DE Michael Johnson, CB Adam Jones, LB Rey Maualuga, CB Terence Newman, K Mike Nugent and OT Andre Smith. The Club also added veteran linebacker and UFA James Harrison.

Today’s signing puts the Bengals among the top five NFL clubs in cash player spending for 2013. The Bengals have committed more than $180 million in new veteran contracts thus far during the year.

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