Cincinnati Bengals Designate DE Michael Johnson with Franchise Tag

Three days before Monday’s deadline, the Cincinnati Bengals designated DE Michael Johnson with the franchise tag.

The Bengals’ defensive front man will make 11.1 million in 2013.

Johnson had a breakout season last year, recording 11.5 sacks. That equals his career total from his previous three seasons with Cincinnati.

Dec 30, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson (93) high fives a fan before taking the field prior to the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals defeated the Ravens 23-17. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

The key here for Cincinnati is that tagging Johnson allows the Bengals to work out a long-term deal with offensive tackle Andre Smith, another key free agent this season.

Even after using the franchise tag, the Bengals still have more than 40 million in cap space. The team will likely try to resign several more of its crucial players from last year’s playoff season that are entering free agency.

That includes CB Nate Clements, S Chris Crocker, DE Robert Geathers, DT Wallace Gilberry, QB Bruce Gradkowski, OLB Thomas Howard, P Kevin Huber, and Adam “Pacman” Jones to list some prominent names.

Then again, a value veteran on the market like pass rusher Dwight Freeney certainly wouldn’t hurt either. Either way, the Bengals will certainly be looking to spend some money during the next few months.

A special note for readers as our Stripe Hype community extends its congratulations to Editor Jason Marcum, who was recently promoted to the position of Sergeant as part of the National Guard. We are all very proud of him.

Topics: Cincinnati Bengals, Free Agency, Michael Johnson, NFL, NFL Franchise Tag

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