Bengals release eight-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins

The move many saw coming has finally arrived in Cincinnati.

The Bengals released defensive tackle Geno Atkins on Friday.

A potential parting of ways between Atkins and the Bengals had been a possibility for months because of a combination of factors: his existing contract, his age and his lack of availability in 2020. After appearing in 16 games in all but one season from 2010-2019, Atkins played in a career-low eight contests in 2020, recording one tackle.

Meanwhile, the Bengals finished as the league's 29th-ranked defense against the run, punctuating a need for more help up front. After signing Saints edge rusher Trey Hendrickson and Browns interior defender Larry Ogunjobi this week, the Bengals demonstrated they're aware of their faults -- and of their financial albatrosses.

Atkins was due to account for a cap hit of $14.7 million in 2021, his age-33 season, and was due $12.2 million in non-guaranteed money, per NFL Network's Mike Garafolo. The only part of Atkins' cap hit that had already been paid out was the prorated portion of his signing bonus, which he received back in 2018. Releasing Atkins was an easy mathematical move.

That's not to say Atkins wasn't worth the money prior to 2020, of course, and he could rediscover such effectiveness once fully healthy in 2021. It just won't be with the Bengals, who are turning the page toward a younger future and aren't done looking for more help at defensive tackle, per Garafolo.

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