Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson is one of the top ten free agents available on the open market, and his 6’7″, 270 pound frame makes him even more enticing. Even though Johnson had just 3.5 sacks last season, he had 11.5 sacks in 2012 and does a solid job of putting consistent pressure on the quarterback. He isn’t as good as Michael Bennett, but he’s a better pass rusher than Lamarr Houston and should be ranked as the No. 2 DE in the free agent class. Like Bennett and Houston, Johnson is one of the best run defenders at the position, and he has the ability to play in the 3-4 scheme as well (he fits best as a 4-3 DE, of course).
The Minnesota Vikings are expected to have the strongest interest in Johnson, because they have a big opening at DE with both Jared Allen and Everson Griffen hitting the free agent market. However, they aren’t the only team with major interest in him, as the Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs reports that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are making a “hard push” to sign him.
Biggs reports that new Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith always had interest in signing Johnson back when he was the Bears head coach, and Johnson would be a massive upgrade for the Bucs. Adrian Clayborn is a good starter, but they desperately need an effective starter opposite of him. Johnson looks like a perfect fit on paper, and DE is their biggest need; it’s not surprising to hear that they have strong interest in him.