It's official: Michael Johnson is a Buccaneer now:
More specifics: Sources: DE Michael Johnson has agreed to a 5-year, $43.75M deal with 24M guaranteed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.— Josina Anderson (@JosinaAnderson) March 11, 2014
This is a great move by Johnson, who will now play to one of the league's best defensive tackles in Gerald McCoy. He finished the 2013 season with a +57.3 grade from PFF, and he should help keep double-teams off MJ. That's what allowed him to thrive in Cincinnati, where he played next to Geno Atkins, the best DT in the NFL.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers remain the favorites to eventually sign Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson once the NFL free agency signing period opens.
The latest report from Adam Schefter suggests a deal may already be in place at 4 pm ET:
Buccaneers and Bengals free-agent DE Michael Johnson in "serious discussions."— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 11, 2014
If Johnson does leaver as expected, that means either Wallace Gilberry or Robert Geathers will likely step into a starting role next year, but don't rule out Margus Hunt either.
A third-round draft pick in 2009, Johnson has played at a Pro Bowl level over the past two seasons, and defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer had made it no secret he loves MJ and wants him back. Now the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, Zimmer wanted to reunite with Johnson there, but after the team signed Everson Griffin to a long-term extension, it ended any hope Johnson would sign there.
The Chicago bears have also showed interest in Johnson, but they appear to be more focused on Oakland Raiders DE Lamarr Houston. If somehow the Bucs fail to sign Johnson, look for the Raiders to begin showing interest in him.
Regardless, he's not coming back to Cincinnati.