Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com writes that Cincinnati would like to keep DE Michael Johnson from hitting the open market in the next few months.
According to Hobson, Johnson is the “leader-in-the-clubhouse to get franchised,” assuming that a long-term deal isn’t in place before then.
Johnson, 25, put together a solid 2012 season for the Bengals that included a career high 11.5 sacks to go along with a fumble recovery and an interception.
Clearly, he’s a young player that they would like to have as a part of their strong defensive line for the years to come, but the franchise tag for defensive ends next year should come in just under $11 million. A long-term deal makes sense and the Bengals will have the cap space to get something done.
Some other notes regarding Bengals’ free agents:
Hobson believes Robert Geathers could be a decent value signing for Cincy.
The emergence of Vontaze Burfict could impact their plans for Rey Maualuga.
Hobson adds that drafting an offensive tackle could be in play given that Andre Smith is set to become an unrestricted free agent.
We have Michael Johnson (38) and Andre Smith (4) both listed in our Top 50 Free Agents list.
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