Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson, who posted a career-high 11.5 quarterback sacks which ranks No. 5 in franchise history, appeared on NFL AM Friday morning feeling somewhat confident that he'll return to Cincinnati in 2013, via Pro Football Talk (who transcribed quotes).
"Everything will work itself out and I’ll be in the best situation — hopefully that’s in Cincinnati," Johnson said. "We’ve got a good thing going. We’ve got to continue to improve, make some more strides and make even more noise. We’ve done a little bit but there’s a lot more left to do. We’ve got a great group of young guys and I’m a part of that, and I look forward to continuing to be a part of that for many years to come."
Johnson is an unrestricted free agent that's a prime candidate for the Bengals to franchise tag him if a long-term deal isn't worked out by March. Johnson has also generated an interception in each of the past two seasons, somewhat rare for a defensive linemen.
This isn't the first time Johnson has sung the praises for the Bengals, wanting to return.
"I would like to stay in Cincinnati. You can always find something wrong with your current position, but the grass is not always greener on the other side," Johnson told Robert Hudson with the Selma Times Journal. "This is the team that’s drafted me, they believed in me over everybody else, I’m embedded in the community up there, my teammates love me, the coaches and the owners. Everybody wants me to be there. I’m not against staying, whether that’s a long-term deal or if I was to get a franchise tag. However we can work it out, I would like to be a Cincinnati Bengal."
According to Johnson, the Cincinnati Bengals and Johnson's agent are talking.
"From what he told me, they really, really want me back — the owners, the coaches, my teammates as well," Johnson said. "We've developed a nice brotherhood amongst us as a team. That's not always the case in every NFL locker room. We hang out together, we’re like high school teammates or college teammates. Our families hang out together, it's a different environment up there."