Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 10/22/14
With Michael Johnson set to receive a Cincinnati Bengals’ salary record of $11.175 million under a one-year franchise tag, it is becoming increasingly possible that fans won’t see Johnson in orange and black stripes in 2014 or beyond. Johnson spoke with Bruce Murray and Rich Gannon on Sirius NFL Radio earlier this week about this upcoming season and a possible contract extension that is out of his control: “I’m the right defensive end and I’ll play in every game and do my best for the team. I can’t worry about that and prepare myself day in and day out. There is no ill will on either side, it’s a business. They have to make these moves much like players have to do the same thing. I have to go out and perform. The bottom line is to help the team win.” With Johnson collecting a sizeable paycheck for defensive ends, and the possibility of another solid year with the defense front the Bengals will be fielding, there are a lot of intangibles going against signing Johnson to an extension: 1. Cost Under the NFL salary cap the Bengals have a team cap of $137 million in 2013. Even though the franchise tag isn’t a perfect basis to determine a long-term contract, it does have some correlation to what that player is worth and for Johnson, it’s a lot. The best DE comparison for an extension, which Johnson would assuredly want more than four years, is DE Chris Long of St. Louis. Last season, Long had nearly identical numbers to Johnson; 11.5 sks, 25 tkls and 8 asts to Johnson’s 11.5 sks, 35 tkls and 17 asts. In 2011, the year before he got an extension, Long had a career year with 13 sks. Long was rewarded with a five-year $60-million contract with $36 million guaranteed and a $6 million signing bonus. Is Michael Johnson’s franchise tag that ranks highest in Bengals’ history too much to afford in 2014? If Johnson can put up numbers close to what he did last season, he can bring in a contract very similar (if not slightly above) Long’s that would average close to $12 million a year. For a Cincinnati team that will be looking at locking up both Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap – who are unrestricted free agents after this season – and having the first year to talk extensions with Andy Dalton and A.J Green, someone is going to be the odd man out and a possible $11 million a year for Johnson may very well be it. 2. DE roulette After the 2012 NFL draft, the Bengals now have second-round pick Margus Hunt, veterans Robert Geathers, Carlos Dunlap and Wallace Gilberry to play in place of Michael Johnson. When the Bengals selected Hunt, it became obvious that the team is preparing for the dismissal of one of its defensive linemane after the 2013 season. With Geathers and Gilberry signed through 2015, Dunlop and Johnson are the two fighting for the last spot. The monetary reasons are an obvious score against Johnson. After that, it comes down to performance of the other two players, Dunlap and Hunt. If Hunt can get up to NFL speed after 2013, the Bengals might go with a Hunt-Dunlap rotation moving forward. Dunlap’s inability to play an entire season makes him a question mark with his durability. That being said, Dunlap’s ability as a DE are very good considering his breakout rookie season where he achieved a career-high 9.5 sacks. He has been steadily reliable ability wise with 4.5 sacks in 2011 and 6.0 in 2012 while playing 12 and 14 games respectively. With some durability questions and going into free agency in 2013, this will be the most crucial season for Dunlap. If he finds himself on the field every week and making considerable contributions, he will more than likely be getting an extension after the season. However, even if Dunlap has just an average season (say 6.0 sacks), if Hunt can become a formidable DE, than the team might just sign Dunlap at a lower price and have a very solid DE line up. There is no doubt that the Bengals have some defensive line personnel questions to resolve following the 2013 season and although difficult, they are very good questions to have. It shows that the Bengals’ draft and player development has been excelling the last few years and Michael Johnson is exhibit A. Whether or not the team chooses to lock up one of their premier rushers won’t be decided until after this season, but come Sept. 8 fans should expect an excellent defensive showdown.      
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Notre Dame WR faces discipline if he hooked up with porn star?

PGA president calls Ian Poulter ‘lil girl’ for Nick Faldo comments

Belichick declines to address Revis' reported tardiness

Texas mayor delays Halloween for Friday night football game

C-USA hired PR firm to help Marshall’s playoff chances

Wilson denies rumored Harvin rift, blames media for scrutiny

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Cowboys could limit DeMarco Murray's touches

Lakers announce Steve Nash to miss season with back issues

Is Mack Brown the best option for SMU?

Jeremy Kerley on new contract: 'Bentleys for everybody'

Buss: Any FA who won’t play with Kobe ‘probably a loser’

NFL to start airing its own anti-domestic violence PSAs

NBA Replay Center readies for its debut on Opening Night

WATCH: Former NBAer delivers vicious flying elbow Down Under

RNS looking to add agents with existing client rosters

Would World Series win make the Giants a dynasty?

NFL teams facing potential must-win scenarios in Week 8

WATCH: Jeremy Lin poses as Adidas employee for prank

WATCH: Peyton screams at fans to 'shut the f- up!'

Father auctioning off infant son's soccer club allegiance

Love thanks T'Wolves fans in essay for not burning his jersey

WATCH: Browns WR 'kicks out' son over favorite player snub

Memorabilia dealer wants Todd Gurley reinstated immediately

Aaron Rodgers gave girlfriend Olivia Munn a 'special ring'?

Bengals News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

NBA Replay Center debuts next week

World Series win = Giants dynasty?

Reliving the worst college football game of the last 10 years

NFL teams facing must-win scenarios in Week 8

What Luis Suarez's return means for Barcelona

Programs with a lot on the line this week

Wilson denies rumored Harvin rift

Lakers: Steve Nash out for season

Is Mack Brown SMU's best option?

Are sports leagues finally getting serious about domestic violence?

Brian Urlacher rips Jay Cutler

On Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving and embracing newfound roles

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.