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Tank Johnson's Exit Continues Team's Youthful Transition

As Jason pointed out earlier on Tuesday, Tank Johnson was released by the Cincinnati Bengals on Tuesday. Have to admit that while the move does make sense for several reasons, it was still rather unexpected. Johnson originally signed a one-year deal with the Bengals in early April 2009. Pro Football Focus graded Johnson at -15.9 that season, which seems like a grade consistent for defensive tackles. Johnson also posted a quarterback sack, three quarterback hits, three pressures and 22 stops (defined as forcing an offensive failure). That being said Tank played well enough to be awarded a four-year deal in early March 2010. Nothing much came from the contract with Johnson suffering a knee injury against the Miami Dolphins, eventually being placed on Injured Reserve November 23. Johnson was due $2.25 million this year with $7.15 million over the course of the next three seasons.

Though the money didn't seem significant in the team's decision, what may have comforted the team into cutting a veteran was the emergence of defensive tackle Clinton McDonald and the return of Jonathan Fanene. McDonald led the Bengals with eight tackles, tied the team-lead for with most solo tackles (5) with Rey Maualuga and Dan Skuta and produced a forced fumble. Yet Fanene's return factors into Tank Johnson's exit, mostly because Fanene could be utilized as a third-down inside pass rusher; a role that Frostee Rucker played Friday night.

Though Tank Johnson's exit was partially surprising, it does make sense in the grande scheme of things. He's now off the books, the team is going younger and who knows how well the knee that forced him to miss nine games last year is recovering. All in all, I thought his time in Cincinnati was a good one. For all of the baggage be brought, none of those issues surfaced. He played hard during his duration but as they say, business is business.