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Bengals re-sign T.J. Johnson who was set to be an exclusive rights free agent

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Originally drafted out of South Carolina in 2013, Johnson made the final roster in each of the past two seasons.

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals have made their second official free agency move this offseason with the re-signing of center T.J. Johnson.

The team announced Monday that Johnson, who was slated to become an exclusive-rights free agent, was re-signed, meaning he'll be under contract with the Bengals for at least one more season. This is the team's second re-signing after inking wide receiver Brandon Tate to a one-year deal last week. Both deals are among the easiest the Bengals will encounter this offseason, so it's no surprise they're getting them out of the way early.

Johnson, who is classified as a third-year NFL player for 2016, joined the Bengals in 2013 after being drafted out of South Carolina with the 251st overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. During his redshirt senior year in 2012, Johnson started in all 13 games at center and broke the school's record for starts over a career. He was named to the Coaches All-SEC second-team and finished his career having started every game between 2009-12.

After coming to the Queen City, Johnson spent his rookie season on the practice squad. In 2014, Johnson made the 53-man roster, played in four games (Games 3 and 12-14) and was inactive (coaches decision) for Games 1-2 and 16. He was active but did not play for Games 4-11 and 15.

In 2015, Johnson appeared in 12 games, including the Wild Card playoff game. He's played both backup guard and backup center over his career, which has helped him remain on the 53-man roster as he's continued to develop.

The Bengals felt good enough about Johnson's progress that they've re-signed him and will give him another shot to make the final roster in 2016. It's unlikely he'll be able to overtake Russell Bodine for the starting center spot, but he will still be just one injury away from becoming the team's starting center.

That will be his 2016 outlook unless the Bengals opt to draft another center in this year's NFL draft, or, sign another center in free agency. It's certainly possible the team tries to upgrade that position, which could then leave Johnson and Bodine battling for the backup spot. NFL teams rarely keep more than two centers, but for now, expect Johnson to make the final roster this year.