While just about every other notable NFL free agent has already been signed, eight-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins is still on the open market. Atkins is looking to receive medical clearance after tearing his rotator cuff during his final season with the Bengals. He is slated to have a checkup with Cowboys team physician Dr. Dan Cooper, who performed surgery on Atkins’ shoulder in December. Atkins is expected to be cleared by July 1, according to ESPN’s Ian Rapoport.
Multiple teams are interested in signing the 33-year-old Atkins, according to Rapoport. During his first 10 NFL seasons (all with the Bengals), the former fourth-round pick tallied 75.5 sacks that included three seasons of double-digit sack totals. Atkins also recorded eight forced fumbles, 383 tackles (100 for loss) and 171 quarterback hits over that span. Atkins’ production was integral in the Bengals’ run of five consecutive postseason berths from 2011-15.
Atkins was not retained by the Bengals after appearing in just eight games (with no starts) in 2020. During the season, the Bengals parted with defensive lineman Carlos Dunlap, who like Atkins was signed to an extension just before the start of the 2018 season. But the Bengals, under third year head coach Zac Taylor, have clearly decided to go in a different direction. Like Atkins, Dunlap did not start in any of his games with the Bengals in 2020 before he was traded to the Seahawks, where he received six starts in eight regular season games. Dunlap was re-signed by Seattle earlier this offseason.
Cincinnati replaced Dunlap with Trey Hendrickson, who recorded a career-high 13 sacks as a member of the Saints in 2020. Former Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi, who recorded 180 tackles and 14.5 sacks in four seasons in Cleveland, has been brought in to replace Atkins.
Speaking of Cleveland, the Browns could be among the teams that place a call to Atkins, a member of the NFL’s 2010s All-Decade Team. Another team that may be interested in signing Atkins is the Vikings, as Atkins spent time in Cincinnati with Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer.