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Fred Johnson to Buccaneers, per report

Johnson is going back to his home state.

NFL: AUG 30 Bengals Training Camp Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Former Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Fred Johnson is signing a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Johnson was originally signed as a college free agent by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2019. He was waived by the Steelers during that season and subsequently claimed by the Bengals. He played out the duration of his rookie contract in Cincinnati, appearing in 23 games and making eight starts, with six coming in 2020.

2021 was a quiet year for Johnson. While he was on the Bengals’ roster, he rarely dressed for game days as a backup. Isaiah Prince essentially beat him out for the role of swing tackle.

Johnson was scheduled to be a restricted free agent this offseason, and in a surprising move, Cincinnati exercised a right of first refusal tender on him at the onset of free agency. This would’ve kept Johnson under contract for a $2.4 million cap hit. A week later, the Bengals waived him, signifying the move was insurance in case they struck out at the tackle position in free agency.

The Buccaneers waited until Johnson cleared waivers to sign him, so his new contract will likely pay him less than the $2.4 million he could’ve made. That said, he at least will have a chance at cracking another playoff roster this offseason. The 25-year old is also a Florida native and played in-state at the University of Florida.