We have debate and opined about the future of Michael Johnson in Cincinnati. Now, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says there is no doubt that Johnson hits the market.
Rapoport says the organization thinks it is a long shot the Johnson stays in Cincinnati. After giving Johnson the franchise tag last season and essentially giving his contract to Carlos Dunlap, many of us thought this was the most probable outcome for the 27 year old defensive end.
The Bengals used the franchise tag on Johnson after a season in which he recorded 11.5 sacks. That number dropped significantly last season to a total of 3.5 sacks, but Johnson still performed well in his role.
Johnson highlights a group of free agent defensive ends along with Michael Bennett, Greg Hardy and Lamar Houston. At 27 he may be in the position to command a deal similar to what Elvis Dumervil got last season (in length) from the Ravens. Dumervil signed a five-year, $26 million contract. The deal contains $8.5 million guaranteed ($7.5 million signing bonus and first-year salary). Another $9 million is available through escalators and incentives. However, Johnson will probably have figures closer to 7 million a year.
One interesting thing to note is the amount of cap space the Minnesota Vikings are carrying into free agency. They are in the top 10 of available space and could create a reuniting of Johnson and former Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.