Michael Johnson has been a big contributor on defense.
Despite losing in the first round of the playoffs this past season, the Cincinnati Bengals have one of the best rosters in the league. They have depth at almost every position and have a great core of young talent on offense like Giovani Bernard, AJ Green, Marvin Jones, and many others. However, there are still some holes that need to be filled, with free agency and contracts coming to an end.
Two of the top free agents on the team are defensive end Michael Johnson and left tackle Anthony Collins. Both are starters for the club and have had huge impacts on their respective sides of the ball. Collins did not allow a sack to come from his man all season, and Johnson has been a huge part of what has become on the best defensive lines in football.
These two are the only starters not under contract for next season and there aren’t great chances that either will return. With Hue Jackson as the new Bengals offensive coordinator, we can expect to see Andrew Whitworth play guard with Jackson’s dedication to the run game. Something will need to be done at left tackle, so if Collins is not happy with the offer the Bengals put on the table they will most likely say goodbye and wait to see what else is on the market.
Johnson will just require too much money out of the Bengals. With fellow defensive linemen Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap receiving big contracts, he will expect the Bengals to match that and that is something they just can’t afford to do. There is less of of a chance of Johnson returning than Collins. The Bengals’ defensive line is so deep that losing Johnson yes would be a loss but not a huge one because they have enough guys to step up and play his position.
But before worrying about signing their own players, the Bengals’ coaches will attend the NFL Scouting Combine where they will look to add more young talent to a team that is already full of it. One of the biggest needs for the Bengals is at cornerback, but unlike in recent years there isn’t a pressing need to fill a roster spot there. If Leon Hall can comeback from a torn achilles, Dre Kirkpatrick continues to grow and mature as a player, and Terrence Newman and Adam Jones don’t let their ages catch up to them, then the Bengals will be in decent shape at cornerback.
If Johnson does end up leaving the Bengals, they will probably look for someone who they can draft in one of the middle rounds. Whoever is the best player available at that position at the time will most likely be chosen by the Bengals.
Without any urgent needs on their roster, the Bengals sit in a good position going into the draft and free agency. They could also possibly go after a running back with the way Hue Jackson has been planning on using the run game. The draft should just add more talent to one of the NFL’s best rosters already.