Fresh off a contract extension that will pay him $40 million through the year 2018, defensive end Carlos Dunlap has secured his role as a cornerstone of the defense for the Cincinnati Bengals.
With the security that the extension brings, Dunlap can focus on once again having the Cincinnati defense at the top of the NFL in 2013. Finishing 7th against the pass and 12th against the run, the Bengals defense is getting better every year.
And it all starts with their talented defensive line, where Dunlap has cemented himself as a team leader alongside fellow top tier defensive lineman Geno Atkins and Michael Johnson.
A pass rushing defensive end who excels at getting off the line of scrimmage and tormenting offensive tackles, Dunlap has 20 sacks in his first three years in the league.
That trend should continue, but in the NFL a shiny new contract brings an elevated level of pressure to perform. No longer on his cap friendly rookie deal, Dunlap will need to live up to what he now costs the team against the cap.
He won’t just be a good young player with potential anymore; he’ll be expected to be a disruptive force to opposing passing attacks on a consistent basis from now on.
And that shouldn’t be a problem for the supremely talented player. No stranger to pressure, great things have been expected from him since he was taken in the second round out of the University of Florida in 2010.
The first three years in the league have been promising for Dunlap, and the future looks even brighter for him and the rest of the talented Bengals defense.