Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson (93) against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium. Bengals defeated the Ravens 34-17. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Free Agency 2014: Chicago Bears interested in Michael Johnson

The Chicago Bears biggest needs this offseason are in the secondary, especially with veteran cornerback Charles Tillman hitting the open market. But they could also give a big boost to their pass defense by adding a pass rusher, as they have needs all over the place on defense. Star defensive tackle Henry Melton will most likely leave this offseason, and even though his departure mostly hurts them even more at defensive tackle, it also hurts their pass rush overall. The Bears could decide to cut ties with Julius Peppers and sign a younger, more productive defensive end to be a star pass rusher.

Michael Bennett and Michael Johnson are two star defensive ends in this league, and they are both among the best free agents available (Bennett is my top-ranked FA overall). ESPN Chicago’s Jeff Dickerson reports  that the Bears have interest in Johnson, and this news isn’t surprising.

Johnson and Bennett would give the Bears a playmaking pass rusher that they crave, and both players would also provide a big boost to the team’s terrible run defense. Safety is their biggest need, but the Bears could also use a pass rusher. Both Johnson and Bennett would require a great deal of money to pry away in a bidding war, but Johnson is a cheaper alternative to Bennett.

Lovie Smith and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are also interested in Johnson, but the NFC North rival Minnesota Vikings are still considered the favorites early on.

Tags: Chicago Bears Michael Bennett Michael Johnson

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