At 6’7” and 270 pounds, Michael Johnson is the ideal pass rusher in the Cincinnati Bengals defensive scheme.
Now that the Bengals have been knocked out of the playoffs, the team hopes Johnson wants to remain with the team that has helped to make him a star in this league. Johnson is one of a handful of defensive ends who will get a long hard look from teams looking for a tall, intimidating pass rusher who can get into the opponent’s backfield and cause nightmares for the quarterback.
An argument could be made that all 32 NFL teams could use someone of Johnson’s stature and speed. And the fact he is an edge rusher makes him that much more valuable.
Johnson, along with Greg Hardy of Carolina, will be the two most sought after pass rushers in free agency. Here are five teams who could use his talents in 2014.
New England Patriots
After seeing many of their defensive players go down with injuries, couldn’t you see Johnson become a solid pass rusher and run stuffer on the outside? Johnson, who was a third rounder out of Georgia Tech and played linebacker up until two years ago, could be an answer on the outside for the Patriots.
I have visions of Johnson on one side and Andre Branch on the other. Two, rangy defensive ends who meet at the quarterback. Johnson could also replace Jason Babin, who was the team’s leader in sacks this past season. Whether Babin returns or not is not known, but the Jaguars need more pass rush specialists and ask the New York Giants - you can never have enough pass rushers.
With all the hoopla of the porous defense and the way Monte Kiffin used his defensive scheme this past season in Dallas, and the fact the team suffered injuries all season long, signing Johnson makes a lot of sense. He and DeMarcus Ware could be a very potent pass rushing combination. Jerry Jones is looking for a spark to turn this team around. He could throw millions more than Johnson is worth to put him in Dallas blue.
Don’t count the Bengals out, yet. Mike Zimmer is thought of as an innovator in defense and has made the Bengals front line as one of the best in the NFL. This means Johnson has been the beneficiary of his tutelage. Look for the Bengals to make and offer to Johnson and then try to counter any offer made. This is the time the Brown family shows it will pay for success.
He would be welcome in sunny California. The Raiders need defenders like I need to lose weight. Look for the Davis’s to take a run at Johnson and build the defensive front around him. I could see him standing up in a defensive scheme much like Howie Long and Jack Squirek were used in defenses of the past. This could be the Raiders’ biggest move of the offseason.