CINCINNATI — The Bengals released Geno Atkins last month following multiple free agent moves.
It might've been painful to move on from one of the greatest players in franchise history, but releasing him saved $9.5 million in cap space in 2021.
Despite cutting him loose and signing a potential replacement in Larry Ogunjobi, the Bengals sound like they're open to bringing Atkins back.
“I think it's all to be determined with Geno. We've got such a regard for him," Director of Player Personnel Duke Tobin told Dan Hoard on the Bengals Booth Podcast. "He's one of the greatest players in franchise history and one of the top defensive tackles in the league the last decade. You're talking about a rare guy. We thought he gave what it could this past year. With where his contract was, we had to make a move there. But who know's what the future holds. We’ll see if there's something that can be worked out. If it does, great and if not, I think we’ve got some other guys that can fill the role.”
Atkins appeared in eight games last season. He was ineffective due to a shoulder injury that he suffered in training camp. He tried to play through it, but ultimately needed surgery.
Bringing back Atkins would make some sense. He looked fast and explosive in training camp last year before his injury. He could potentially thrive in a rotational role alongside DJ Reader.
Atkins is close with Ogunjobi. The duo has trained together in the past. The Bengals also re-signed veteran Mike Daniels this offseason. Defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo would probably love to have a quartet of Reader, Ogunjobi, Daniels and Atkins on the interior of the line.
Unfortunately for the Bengals, Atkins knows he needs to make the most of his opportunity if he wants to continue his playing career after the 2021 season. His future is dependent upon signing with the right team—not only so he can get on the field, but to ensure he's in a position to make plays in his quest to show the league that he can still make an impact.
That could mean returning to Cincinnati, but the 33-year-old should survey the landscape and make sure it's the best move for him and his family. It wouldn't be surprising to see him wait to sign with a team until after the 2021 NFL Draft, which starts on April 29.
Listen to Hoard's entire conversation with Tobin below.
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