A year ago, the Cleveland Browns were able to steal away a Bengals defensive end in free agency because they were willing to pay much, much more money. That player, Frostee Rucker, received a five-year deal worth $20.5 million, and included a $5 million dollar signing bonus. Yet, two weeks ago, Rucker was cut by the Browns, who are moving to a 3-4 defense under their new head coach Rob Chudzinski.
According to ESPN Rumor Central Blogger Brent Sobleski, the Browns are at it again. This time, it's Michael Johnson they're after.
Johnson figures to hit big pay dirt this offseason, posting a career-high 11.5 sack season just before entering free agency. Johnson's sack numbers, along with his freakish athleticism and length, have members of opposing fan bases drooling. He could project as a 3-4 outside linebacker with the Browns. After all, the Bengals experimented with Michael Johnson at linebacker for two years.
The Bengals will need to work extremely hard to retain their two big name free agents, Michael Johnson and Andre Smith, and they may even need to use the franchise tag on one of them. The franchise tagging period began yesterday and extends until March 4.