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Bengals stall talks with Nick Fairley to assess Michael Johnson

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The Cincinnati Bengals played host to defensive tackle Nick Fairley on Wednesday. However, things changed when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced they released former Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

While the Bengals introduced linebacker A.J. Hawk and announced that Clint Boling and Eric Winston have re-signed with the team, former Detroit Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley spent most of the day visiting Cincinnati. By mid-afternoon, Fairley was seen hanging near the lockerroom while the chaos of re-signed contracts and homecomings took place.

Things appeared to be going well.

Then another disruption took place and everything stalled. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced they released defensive end Michael Johnson.

As a result, the pursuit of Fairley has slowed while the Bengals assess whether they're able to re-sign Johnson. Bengals.com beat writer Geoff Hobson writes that "it looks like the brakes are on until they can figure out if they can re-sign Johnson." There's a strong possibility that mutual interest between the Bengals and Johnson translates into a reunion. However, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Minnesota Vikings are expected to pursue Johnson with head coach Mike Zimmer leading that charge.

In the meantime, Fairley has other teams that have expressed interested in him. Mark Daniels with the Providence Journal reported on Wednesday afternoon that the New England Patriots had began showing interest in Fairley. Jim Thomas with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the Rams were also interested, but no visit has been scheduled.

The Detroit Lions, the team that selected him in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft, decided to end their pursuit of maintaining Fairley. Dave Birkett with the Detroit Free Press adds that the Lions "have told multiple people that they are no longer interested in re-signing Fairley, whose injury and weight issues have been a concern for years." The Lions, who lost defensive tackle Ndamokong Suh to the Miami Dolphins, attempted to negotiate up until the 4 p.m. (ET) start in free agency. There were six teams that had expressed interest by the point.

As the Who Dey turns.