The Cincinnati Bengals announced Atkins agreed to a long-term contract extension with the organization:
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Bengals locked up the three-year pro to a five-year extension worth $55 million:
Atkins was likely going to be a Bengal at least through the 2014 season. He was under contract for one more year, and his immense, dynamic talent made him a likely candidate for a franchise tag in 2014. But this was a move team owner Mike Brown and Co. would have been dense not to make.
After showing promise in his sophomore season in 2011, Atkins exploded into elite territory last season. He upped his tackles (53 combined), sacks (12.5), forced fumbles (four) and overall presence.
Of course, he wasn't just a one-trick pony. In addition to leading all defensive tackles in sacks—he was tied for sixth in the NFL overall—and creating constant pressure in the backfield, Atkins also established himself as an anchor for Cincy's run defense.
For the second season in a row, the Bengals finished in the top 12 in the league in yards per rush (4.1) and rushing yards per game (107.2) allowed.
Atkins is one of the most impressive physical specimens in the league.
At 6'1", 303 pounds, the former Georgia star has a scary combination of size, strength, athleticism and agility. If he isn't getting to the quarterback or disrupting a run, he is usually drawing a double-team and opening things up for guys like Michael Johnson (11.5 sacks) and Carlos Dunlap (6.0).
Simply put, teams are forced to game-plan around Atkins.
He's getting paid handsomely for a defensive tackle, but as one of the most ferocious, unblockable players in the league at 25 years of age, he is clearly worth it.
What's more, he can now concentrate strictly on football rather than contract negotiations—just another scary thought for opposing offensive linemen.