The Cincinnati Bengals re-signed defensive end Robert Geathers to a three-year contract Tuesday, a few minutes before he was set to become an unrestricted free agent with the start of the new league year.
“I told him the day after the season got over that he wasn’t going to go anywhere, that he was going to stay with me,” Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer said of Geathers, who will be entering his 10th season, making him the team’s longest-tenured player.
“He’s a tremendous pro,” Zimmer continued. “The thing I love about Robert is he’s never going to make a mistake, and he’s always going to put the team in front of himself. He’s going to practice real hard and play real hard, and he makes the rest of the players on defense more accountable.”
The three-year contract is worth a reported $9.5 million, and it comes on the heels of the team signing defensive end Wallace Gilberry to a three-year, $6.5 million deal, which was first reported Sunday and made official Tuesday.
Those moves, coupled with the Bengals using the franchise tag on defensive end Michael Johnson, keep a defensive line that was the strength of the team the last two seasons almost intact. Only unrestricted free agent defensive tackle Pat Sims remains unsigned among the line’s seven-man rotation.
“It’s great to get them all back, and we’re still trying to get a few more of our guys signed,” Zimmer said. “I think we have a good thing going, so instead of going out in free agency and spending a lot of money on people we don’t really know, we know these guys and what they’re about.
“Having the nucleus of the defensive line back will be big. It is a good day.”
Gilberry, 28, is entering his sixth NFL season and first full one with the Bengals, who signed him in Week 3 last year after Jamaal Anderson went down with a season-ending quad injury. Gilberry went on to record 6.5 sacks and 34 tackles with one forced fumble and three fumble recoveries, one of which he returned for his first career touchdown Dec. 13 at Philadelphia.
Geathers, 29, started all 16 games in 2012 and finished with 3.5 sacks and 45 tackles while playing 61 percent of the defensive snaps.
“Robert came out of college very young, so he’s still a fairly young guy,” Zimmer said. “He’s definitely got more in the tank, and we’re going to try to get it all out of him.”