Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/7/14
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.      
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Has Blake Griffin taken the next step?

Mike Evans liked Winston more than Mariota

Ernie Johnson gives his Emmy to Stuart Scott’s daughters

Titus Young avoids prison, receives probation

Manziel moves from downtown Cleveland to golf community

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Ex sues Mayweather for $20M for lying in Couric interview

The NBA needs to leave 'hack-a-whoever' rules alone

Top Rank threatens to sue over Mayweather-Pacquiao piracy

Titans already tailoring offense to suit Mariota's strengths

Pettine: Manziel isn't favorite for Browns' starting QB job

Randy Gregory denies 'weed problem,' says he's immature

WATCH: Zack Greinke does great bat flip after hitting double

WATCH: Fan uses beer as ice pack after being hit by ball

La'el Collins reportedly has 'airtight alibi' in murder case

WATCH: Stephen Curry nails shot from hallway prior to game

Top eight NFL free agents on the market

No homers, no problem for Cubs' Kris Bryant

Eagles' Chip Kelly & Sam Bradford: In like, but not love

NFL releases times and dates for preseason slate

Fans file $5M class action suit against Pacquiao over injury

Making sense of the AL East pile-up

Brandon Prust sorry for saying referee ‘tries to play God’

Ron Roenicke and the career afterlives of fired managers

All Sports 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!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Top eight NFL free agents on the market

Eagles' Chip Kelly & Sam Bradford: In like, but not love

Manziel moves from downtown Cleveland

Making sense of the AL East pile-up

Chris Bosh on blood clot diagnosis: ‘I’m lucky to be alive’

Projecting the All-Star Game rosters

Tiger hasn't slept in three days since Lindsey Vonn breakup

2015 NBA Draft big board, first edition

Eliminate Hack-A-Player: Don't reward violating sports rules

No easy solution to the problem of early NFL draft entrants

What’s next for the Spurs?

Cauley-Stein changes middle name to 'Trill'

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.