We have routinely championed the return of outside linebacker Brandon Johnson, who is an unrestricted free agent. In early June we wrote a posting that simply suggested that Johnson should be a free agent priority, writing:
Dating back to 2008, Johnson's three interceptions is the most by a Bengals linebacker. Dhani Jones' 14 passes defenses during that time is the most amongst Bengals linebackers; more than Johnson's 11 passes defensed who ranked second. Then you consider that Jones took part in 516 more defensive snaps on passing downs and the percentages arguably favors Johnson again.
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.
At last report the Bengals were interested enough to keep an open dialogue with Johnson, though talks were at one point described as stalled. Until now:
Sounds like talks are progressing with their own FA WLB Brandon Johnson
If the Bengals can manage to sign Johnson, the team will have a decent roster of linebackers. Rey Maualuga in the middle, Thomas Howard on the weak-side, Manny Lawson on strong-side with Brandon Johnson managing his former role as the team's best cover linebacker in nickel formations. Combine that Dontay Moch and Keith Rivers when he returns. In the mean time the Bengals are going to have a fierce competition for a spot on the roster between Vincent Rey, Dan Skuta, Stephen Franklin and DeQuin Evans, who is receiving early training camp praise. Undrafted free agent Keith Darbut was waived earlier on Tuesday.