Contract Forecast: Geno Atkins

Contract Forecast: Geno Atkins
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Contract Forecast: Geno Atkins

One of the most underrated defensive figures in the NFL until the middle of 2012, and one of the key components of the Cincinnati Bengals climb back into winning fashion has been defensive tackle Geno Atkins.

In 2012 Atkins was far and away the highest rated defensive lineman according to Pro Football Focus (80.0 rating, Gerald McCoy 2nd at 31.2). He's shown considerable improvement in each of his 3 NFL seasons and should be considered a key core piece in Cincinnati going foward. A recent article from Erik Frenz at Bleacher Report classifies Atkins as a target for a long-term extension, so we'll follow suit by placing him in our forecast formula.

Entering his 4th and final year of a $3.2 million rookie contract, it's likely that the Bengals have already made preliminary plans to negotiate an extension. We'll plug Atkins into our forecast tool to generate a prediction for the years, value, and guaranteed money deserved.

Comparable Defensive Linemen
Atkins just turned 25 (March 28th), the standard age for sophomore contracts to be signed. However a recent wave of franchise tags in lei of extensions for top linemen have thwarted the age for "long-term deals" with this position. To determine a more likely starting point for our numbers, we'll perform a linear regression of each contract breakdown listed below.
Player Length Value Avg. Salary Age When Signed
Jay Ratliff 7 $48.625 million $6,946,429 29
Haloti Ngata 5 $48.524 million $9,704,800 27
Kyle Williams 6 $33.555 million $5,592,500 27
Barry Cofield 6 $36 million $6,000,000 26
Averages 6 $41,676,000 $7,060,932 27.6

Note: A linear regression is a formula that plots the provided points of data for Length and Value of the contracts, and then generates the best-fit line for those points, resulting in a "slope" value that translates to an average annual salary.

View the list of Top Average Paid Defensive Linemen in the NFL

Because Atkins (25) is younger than all of our variable linemen were at the times of their signings, we'll adjust the above contracts down to his age by subtracting from the overall years to make each variable player 25 years old. Once a linear regression is performed on these new numbers we're given the following terms to begin with:

Length Value Avg. Salary (slope)
6 $39,594,006 $6,599,001
Statistical Analyzations, Prime Percentage
Now let's analyze these players statistically in the year prior to signing their second contract by showing Games Played, Sacks, Tackles, Solo Stops, and Penalites.
Player Games SAcks Tackles Solo Stops Penalties
Jay Ratliff (2009-10, DAL) 16 4.75 26 21 5
Haloti Ngata (2009-10, BAL) 15 3.5 36.5 25 2
Kyle Williams (2009-10, BUF) 15 4.75 24 26 2.5
Barry Cofield (2009-10, NYG) 16 2.5 31.5 22 3
Averages 15.5 3.875 29.5 23.5 3.125
Geno Atkins (2011-12, CIN) 16 10 34 38.5 1.5
% Difference 3.23% 158.06% 15.52% 63.83% 52%
Our results here show that Atkins is far and away in a class of his own statistically. He gets the quarterback, stops the run, avoids penalties, and can do all this in solo-fashion as well. We'll factor his slight Prime Percentage of 58.47%, into our previously determined base numbers.
Guaranteed Money
Atkins has shown the 3 major keys to earning himself a highly guaranteed contract: Production, Improvement, and Durability. A linear regression on the variable contracts used in this analyzation provides us with the percent of money Geno should receive as true guaranteed with this new extension.
Player Value True Guarantees % Guaranteed
Jay Ratliff $48,625,000 $17,500,000 36%
Haloti Ngata $48,524,000 $27,100,000 55.8%
Kyle Williams $33,555,000 $17,000,000 50.7%
Barry Cofield $36,000,000 $12,500,000 34.7%
Adjusted Regression 45.6%

Length of the Contract
Because all of our variable players - and the current trend shows that linemen aren't getting these long-term deals until they're older, we'll give Atkins the benefit of the doubt for being this good at 25 - and we'll use 6 years for our forecast.

Value of the Contract
The reality of this forecast is that the top contracts (and statistics) for defensive lineman belong to players still in their pre-rookie-wage entry level deals (Suh, G. McCoy). Based on our formula that looks to statistics leading up to signing, these players couldn't be used in comparison. Our variable players are showing that the going rate for the NEXT contract at this position is nothing to to write home about in terms of total value. However, the 45% in guaranteed money is considerably higher than most of the positional forecasts we've performed.

Atkins is a diamond in the rough for the Bengals, and has stayed under the radar until Mid-2012 when his on-field performance really got some national presence. He's entering a contract year in 2013, and will require more than the going rate. We'll factor his 58.47% prime percentage into our base values to determine our forecast:

Spotrac's Prediction: 6 years, $62,744,621
  •  Average annual salary: $10,457,437
  •  Guaranteed: $28,611,547 (45.6%)