Originally written July 13, 2013 on isportsweb.com:
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

Brain study finds 76 of 79 deceased NFL players had CTE

Five things to watch in the AL Wild Card game

Tony Sparano to step in as Raiders head coach

Eli on Geno Smith: If fans yell at you, you probably deserve it

49ers players come out in support of Jim Harbaugh

Raiders reportedly expected to make a run at Jon Gruden

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

FCC unanimously ends sports blackout rule

Michael Phelps arrested for DUI

Is hiring Mack Brown a real possibility for SMU Mustangs?

NFL: Abdullah should not have been penalized for praying

Belichick: Pats 'didn't play well enough at all' against Chiefs

Astros new manager A.J. Hinch: ‘Goal is to win championships’

Heckling Knicks fan suing team over ejection

This weekend in NFL stupid

Kobe: Iggy Azalea has had better career than Swaggy P

College football's post-Week 5 playoff projection

Oregon to don pink-themed unis for breast cancer awareness

Is DeMarco Murray the best RB in the NFL?

WATCH: TBS sends up 'Boom Goes the Dynamite' with promo

Ilya Bryzgalov takes photos with fans while on the bench

NFL Awards: Week 4 edition

The best and worst MLB players in September

Tracking demanding career paths of all Top 25 head coaches

NFL Power Rankings: Week 4

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!

Study: 76 of 79 deceased NFL players had CTE

AL Wild Card preview

Heckling fan sues Knicks over ejection

Sparano to step in as Raiders head coach

This weekend in NFL stupid

Kobe chooses Iggy over Swaggy P

Raiders to make a run at Jon Gruden?

Is DeMarco Murray the NFL's best RB?

Ilya Bryzgalov takes photos with fans while on the bench

NFL Awards: Week 4 edition

Michael Phelps arrested for DUI

NFL admits error on Abdullah penalty

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.