the NFL nudged ESPN to

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the NFL nudged ESPN to

Some think Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins doesn’t get enough credit. The Bengals are giving him more than enough credit.

Despite Atkins being on the wrong side of 30 , the Bengals have kept him on the right side of mega-rich with a four-year, $65.2 million extension. Here’s the full breakdown, per a source with knowledge of the deal:

1. $13 million signing bonus.

2. $4 million roster bonus, due at signing.

3. $8 million base salary for 2018.

4. $3.5 million roster bonus, due on the third day of the 2019 league year.

5. $8 million base salary for 2019.

6. $11.1 million base salary for 2020.

7. $11.7 million base salary for 2021.

8. $12.95 million base salary for 2022.

9. $300,000 workout bonuses for 2018 through 2022.

10. $200,000 in 46-man roster bonuses for 2018 through 2022.

The deal has a total value of $74.75 million over five years. Due to make $9.55 million in 2018 under his prior deal Denzelle Good Jersey , Atkins will instead make $25.5 million in 2018. The new contract also pays out $37.5 million in cash over two years, significantly more than the $37.5 million he would have made in the final year of his contract plus the franchise tag, if the tag for defensive tackles ends up being $15 million. (And the Bengals, we’re told, fully intended to tag Atkins absent a new deal.)

Although none of the base salaries are guaranteed (which is the Bengals’ standard practice for veterans), he’d walk away with $25.5 million if the Bengals choose to cut him before paying the $12 million in base compensation he’s due to make in 2019.

The new-money average of $16.3 million is the highest for any non-quarterback over the age of 30, and it makes Atkins the team’s highest paid player.

Of the 17 referees on the NFL’s payroll during the 2017 season , four of them have now left. Does that leave the NFL with a referee problem?

It’s a fair question to ask as the 2018 season approaches. While the departures of Ed Hochuli and Jeff Triplette had been known for months, the bang-bang retirements of Terry McAulay and Gene Steratore in recent days, reportedly to work at NBC and CBS respectively, is jarring. And the moves raise legitimately questions as to whether something has gone haywire with the NFL’s officiating department, whether more referees will leave, and whether the replacements will be good enough.

Six years ago, the Commissioner stridently boasted that replacement officials would perform as well as the locked-out black-and-white-stripers who wanted more green than the NFL would give them. Reality proved the Commissioner quite wrong Rigoberto Sanchez Jersey , culminating in the embarrassment that was the Fail Mary.

Three days after the Seahawks beat the Packers thanks to a blatant case of offensive pass interference on the game’s last play, the “A” team was back, led by the swagger of Steratore, who’s Thursday night strut for a Browns-Ravens game let everyone know that, indeed, there’s a palpable difference between the best officials in football and those who aren’t.

With Steratore now gone (along with McAulay, Hoculi Antwaun Woods Jersey , and Triplette), the NFL will be facing a real test. And the stakes are higher than ever, since there will be actual, legal stakes on the games.

And it could have been worse. Kevin Seifert of reported that Clete Blakeman also auditioned for the NBC gig that went to McAulay. If ESPN hadn’t hired Triplette (who already had retired, and who many fans won’t miss), maybe Blakeman would have gotten one of the three recently-filled network gigs.

And maybe now the report that the NFL nudged ESPN to hire Triplette makes more sense. Maybe it wasn’t about helping Tripllette; maybe it was about helping the NFL not lose yet another referee as a new season approaches.

And maybe the NFL now needs to worry about possibly losing more referees after the coming season concludes.

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