After Cincinnati Bengals fell to the bottom of the NFL with just 20 sacks in 2014, signing or drafting an impact defensive end became a top priority for the off-season. Consider that goal achieved, as the Bengals have agreed to terms with free agent DE Michael Johnson, according to a tweet from ESPN’s Adam Schefter:
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Johnson played with the Bengals from 2009-13, recording 26.5 sacks, before signing a large (five-year $43.75 million) free agent contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before last season. After recording four sacks for Tampa in 2014, the Bucs cut him on March 11 to make him a free agent.
According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, Johnson’s new contract with the Bengals is for four years, though financial terms are not known at this time. In addition to the Bengals, whom he visited on Friday, Johnson also drew strong interest from the Minnesota Vikings.
Given his history with the Bengals and familiarity with past teammates, as well as the string of four-straight playoff appearances for Cincinnati, it’s not surprising to see Johnson coming “home” to the Riverfront. The pass rush was one of the Bengals’ true few weaknesses in 2014, and Johnson should help shore up that area.
We’ll have more on the Johnson deal in the days to come, as well as grades for all the Bengals’ moves in free agency. With the Johnson signing behind them, though, it seems unlikely that Cincinnati will splurge for any other big names and will now turn their attention toward the upcoming draft.