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Cincinnati Bengals sign Carlos Dunlap, Geno Atkins to new deals

CINCINNATI -- The Bengals signed both Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins to new deals on Tuesday, locking up the key components of their defensive line for the next several years.

Atkins' four-year deal is worth $65.3 million, with $25.5 million coming in the first year, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports. He'll average $16.3 million per year, a record yearly average for a non-quarterback older than 30.

Dunlap, 29, signed a three-year extension that is worth $45 million, Schefter reports. That will keep him under contract through age 31.

"Back to back," Dunlap wrote on social media, tagging Atkins.

Dunlap and Atkins are No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in franchise sacks, with a combined 125½ sacks between them. The Bengals made it no secret that getting deals done with both players was an important priority in the offseason, and that was possible with almost all of the other defensive line players on rookie contracts.

The one exception is Michael Johnson, who is in the final year of a four-year contract signed in 2015 that will pay him $5 million in salary in bonuses this year. Johnson, 31, was once considered the rising star on the Bengals' defensive line, but the tide began shifting to Dunlap in 2013, when he signed a five-year extension on the same day the Bengals failed to reach an agreement with Johnson ahead of the franchise tag deadline.

Johnson played on the franchise tag for one year before signing with the Buccaneers, but returned to the Bengals after just one season in Tampa.

Dunlap and Atkins have become two of the most important pieces on the defensive side of the ball since they were taken in the second and fourth round, respectively, of the 2010 NFL draft. This is the third contract for both players, who signed extensions a few months apart in 2013.

Dunlap, Atkins and a group of young players in Carl Lawson, Sam Hubbard, Jordan Willis and Andrew Billings are expected to generate a strong pass rush under new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin.