According to the Mothership captain, the Cincinnati Bengals would like to re-sign outside linebacker Brandon Johnson and Jonathan Fanene, two of the defense's power hitters during Nickel packages. Johnson and Fanene are entering the new league year as free agents and speculation insists that Johnson may want a team with an opening starting position. Who knows if he can be convinced to take up Maualuga's departing spot at strong-side.
When Johnson started for the injured Keith Rivers in 2008, he posted 112 tackles, 1.5 quarterback sacks and two interceptions. Furthermore Johnson led the team with 90 tackles during the nine-game stretch in which he started for Rivers. Also posting the most tackles in (at least) five games, Johnson recorded double-digit tackles five times. Pro Football Focus graded Johnson as the team's second-best defensive player that year. After the team drafted Rey Maualuga during the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft, Johnson's role diminished by nearly 200 defensive snaps, opening his path as a primarily a nickel linebacker.
Antwan Odom suffered a season-ending injury in 2009, leading the team with eight quarterback sacks at the time. Fanene replaced Odom, starting the final ten games, finishing the season with six quarterback sacks -- second on the team behind Odom. Fanene also produced a 45-yard pick-six during Cincinnati's 23-13 over the Detroit Lions. Cincinnati's coaching staff love Fanene's versatility, which have traditionally included stints as a defensive tackle during obvious passing situations.