August 16, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson (93) during the game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome. The Bengals beat the Falcons 24-19. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Falcons and Patriots May Pursue Michael Johnson

The Cincinnati Bengals will likely have to watch defensive end Michael Johnson depart in free agency this offseason. With a salary cap of just about $24 million and a possible extension coming for All-Pro receiver A.J. Green, there’s simply not a lot of money to offer Johnson.

But who will ultimately target him? It’s unlikely he’ll go to any of the AFC North teams, and he may not even stay in the AFC.

Matt Miller of the Bleacher Report was in Mobile this week at the Senior Bowl, and from what he heard, the Atlanta Falcons plan to target Johnson in free agency:

What will the Atlanta Falcons do in free agency? I spoke to one source who believes they’ll try to lure Michael Johnson back to Georgia and hope for a hometown discount in the process.

Johnson, who signed the one-year tender worth $11 million last year, isn’t expected to be tagged for a second consecutive season. If Johnson is franchised again, he’ll receive a 120-percent increase in salary that pays him over $13 million.

Doug Kyed of NESN reports the New England Patriots may target Johnson again this offseason after considering him last year:

The Patriots had interest in Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson last year before he was franchised. He could also play end or tackle depending on the down and distance. Johnson’s sacks decreased in 2013, so his price tag should be lower going into 2014.

Unfortunately for the Bengals, they play both of those team in 2014, so the likelihood of having to face Johnson is growing. It’s still unclear if Mike Zimmer will push for the Minnesota Vikings to sign MJ, but you have to think they will make a run at him.

After the way Zim gushed over him this offseason, you know he wants him in Minnesota. 

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