The NFL is a passing league. The running game still has a place, but teams that win in the playoffs have the ability to move the ball down the field through the air. Because of this good cornerbacks cost more than they ever have as do good pass rushers. After all, a quarterback will have a hard time throwing the ball if he's getting pulled down to the ground before he can find an open receiver.
Luckily for us, the Bengals are good at rushing the passer, which is one of the reasons they used the franchise tag on defensive end Michael Johnson, keeping him in Cincinnati for at least one more season.
Had Johnson hit the open market, his price would have likely skyrocketed due to the fact that there are several teams who consistently struggle when it comes to rushing the passer and Johnson could be an easy fix. The effect of Johnson being tagged isn't just felt in Cincinnati or throughout the AFC North, though. It's actually felt throughout the league as it helps some of the lesser-known pass rushers land decent contracts.
One such defensive end is Tampa Bay's Michael Bennett, who had his best season in 2012, sacking the opposing quarterback nine times.
NFL.com's Marc Sessler says that Bennett was helped by the Bengals tagging Johnson because more teams will look his way.
Bennett was helped by top-flight end Michael Johnson's franchise-tag designation from the Cincinnati Bengals. Even with Cliff Avril on the market along with Osi Umenyiora, John Abraham and Dwight Freeney, Bennett is going to find work on a team ready to appreciate what he brings.
Guys like Abraham, Umenyiora and Freeney have put up big numbers before, but they're all over 30 years old, which will make teams think twice before handing over a massive paycheck. Avril, Johnson and Bennett would have drawn much more attention as they're all in their 20's, but now that Johnson is off the market, Bennett should land a bigger deal.