Bengals Roundtable: Priority Free Agents

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The Cincinnati Bengals have been huge winners in each of the past two offseasons because of their ability to consistently re-sign their best players and fill the roster with solid role players. But once again, many key players will be entering contract years in the 2013-14 NFL season, and now is the time to start the heavy negotiating and begin setting the parameters for long-term extensions.

“What 2014 free agent (excluding Geno Atkins) do the Bengals need to re-sign the most this summer?”

Joe Johnson

You absolutely MUST KEEP MICHAEL JOHNSON ! He’s quickly becoming one of the best defensive ends in the league. We have to keep. Our defensive line intact. It is the best pass rushing line in the league and is the strength of this team. Michael is a huge part of it. Not re-signing him would be flat out idiotic. Taking him away will weaken that line, and that’s something we don’t need. You need to actually do something right and re-sign him during the regular season. Let’s get this done.

Oct 7, 2012; Columbus, OH, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) is sacked by Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson (93) in the first quarter at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Dugan

Always a tough decision as to whom has to be the top priority to sign long term, but given the list of potential free agents, this one to me is easy.  The franchise tagged Michael Johnson is the player the Bengals need to strike a long term deal with going into this summer.  Johnson has only improved for the Bengals since being drafted in the 3rd round in 2009.  Johnson was considered a “raw talent” coming out of Georgia Tech, and many analysts projected Johnson as a 1st round pick.  The Bengals could barely believe it when he fell to the 3rd round and nabbing him there was an absolute steal.

Johnson accumulated 52 total tackles, including 35 solo, amassed 11.5 sacks, a forced fumble and an interception in 2012.  With lots of attention going to Atkins and Dunlap on the front line, Michael Johnson sometimes gets lost in the shuffle, unless you are an opposing quarterback.  Look for more dominant stats this season as Michael Johnson gets another year under the direction of Mike Zimmer, and if the Bengals don’t sign Johnson long term, another team will be more than happy to pony over the cash.