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Bengals Secure Defensive Core With Wilson Extension

2022 WK01 PIT_55 WILSON_Cele-lowres

The Bengals locked in a team leader and defensive centerpiece with the contract extension of Logan Wilson. The four-year extension keeps a core member of Lou Anarumo's defense in stripes through 2027.

Wilson has proven to be one of the best linebackers in the league since being drafted in 2020 as part of a dynamic Bengals class featuring Joe Burrow and Tee Higgins. Wilson is the first major piece of that puzzle to find itself slotted in place, and his production along with his irreplaceable role as the heartbeat of Cincinnati's defense validates it.

"It's a team that decided to take a chance on me," said Wilson. "I've given everything I have for the last three years and I'd like to give everything I have for the next five years. For them to reciprocate that love that I have for this organization was big and I'm glad we could get something done."

Wilson, who leads all linebackers with seven interceptions since he entered the league, has steadily improved each season in Anarumo's system, with ascending numbers by the year to show for it. That includes a career-high 123 tackles a season ago that were the most by a Bengal since Vontaze Burfict's 171 in 2013.

Number 55 can be found at the center of everything Anarumo calls for. In a literal sense, he calls the plays, relaying every word from Anarumo's radio communication as the designated "green dot" defender. Then when the ball is snapped, he is either aiding a line that has ranked in the top-seven leaguewide in run defense for each of the past two seasons, or dropping into coverage to support a secondary that held opposing passers to an NFL-low 58.9 completion percentage in 2022.

"(Lou) knows how to put guys in a position to be successful," Wilson said of his coordinator. "I think that's why we've had the success that we've had on defense for the last few years. He's very good at tricking the offense, keeping the offense on their toes. Guys really do love playing for him because they can go to him with any questions they have. A lot of times in this league, there are coaches where it's a one-way street. You're going to do things their way and that's just how it's going to be. With Lou, it's a two-way street. There's conversations about certain things that you can talk through and maybe adjust on certain coverages."

Above all else, Wilson's clutch gene has helped cement his name in Bengals lore. It was Wilson who flipped the fortunes of the 2021 Divisional Playoff at Tennessee, when he picked off Ryan Tannehill in the game's final minute to give the ball back to the offense for a walk-off field goal drive. In this past January's Wild Card against Baltimore, the Hubbard-Yard Dash would have instead been a go-ahead Ravens touchdown had it not been for Wilson meeting Tyler Huntley at the summit of the goal line pileup to knock the ball free.

All Wilson seems to do in big moments is make plays like he's back at Natrona County High School in Wyoming, playing four different positions spread out across all three phases.

To an extent, he represents all the key attributes of Anarumo's universally respected defense — consistent, dependable and, perhaps most important, frustrating to line up against. Wilson has rarely concerned himself with headlines or accolades. He just answers the bell.

Now, as training camp rolls along and the Bengals embark on what they hope is a championship journey, their star linebacker will remain a central figure while he carves out his own Cincinnati legacy.

"I'm honored to be able to call this place home for the next five years," Wilson said. "It's crazy to think back to where my career started and how it's gone, and where we're at now. I don't think I could've ended up in a better city and be with a better group of fans. To come into a situation where we weren't doing very well as an organization to where we are now, and to be a small part of that, I think is very rewarding."