In the days before the lockout came to an end, we figured that the four most important free agents that the Bengals had to re-sign were as follows: Johnathan Joseph (nope), Cedric Benson (check), a veteran quarterback (check) and linebacker Brandon Johnson (.....).
While losing Joseph was a big hit, signing three of the four most important free agents might not be so bad. I mean even Meatloaf says two out of three ain't bad. If that's the case then three out of four is even better.
That might not happen, though. According to the Mothership's Geoff Hobson, Johnson and the Bengals have reached a stalemate in contract talks.
The Bengals are still responding to starting WILL Keith Rivers' wrist surgery, Rey Maualuga's move from SAM to the middle, the departure of middle linebacker Dhani Jones, the stalemated contract talks with nickel backer Brandon Johnson, and the season-ending Achilles injury to backup middle backer Roddrick Muckelroy.
Brandon Johnson was rated as the team's best pass coverage linebacker by Pro Football Focus, scoring a 6.0, which compared to the other Bengals linebackers, might as well be a 10.
Pro Football Focus grades Johnson as the team's best linebacker in pass coverage, scoring a 6.0 which blows away the team's other core linebackers. Since 2008, Rivers (-1), Jones (-3.7) and Maualuga (-4.9) received negative scores in pass coverage according to Pro Football Focus' grades.
Even though the Bengals have signed two free agent linebackers, Manny Lawson and Thomas Howard, the injuries to Rivers and Muckelroy still leave the team with little depth at the position. The Bengals could certainly use Brandon Johnson, but two things are working against the deal: time and time.
Time, of course, refers to the amount of time it takes to sign a player. The longer the Bengals and Johnson can't strike a deal, the lower the chances are that he'll be a Bengal in 2011.
And Time, of course, refers to the amount of playing time and kind of contract that Johnson believes he deserves. Johnson knows his value and knows what he can do, it isn't like he's completely unaware that he was the team's best linebacker in pass coverage by far. He is, without a doubt, looking to play a more permanent role than backup linebacker, special teams captain and nickel linebacker. Johnson wants to be on the field from first down through fourth down.
Hopefully the Bengals and Johnson can get a deal done because the team could definitely use his help at the linebacker position. The team has $41 million to spend, the most in the NFL, so there's really no excuse to not get a deal done. If Johnson goes to another team, the Bengals have nobody to blame but themselves.