AFC North Update
Michael Johnson returns to Cincinnati after a one year hiatus in which he struggled to stay on the field due to injuries and a lack of productivity as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer. In his return to Cincy the defensive end has signed a four-year $24 million contract and has the inside track to start opposite Carlos Dunlap. Johnson, drafted by the Bengals, spent his first five seasons in Cincinnati before signing a lucrative contract with the Bucs last season. He decided to sign with the Bengals over the Vikings where his old defensive coordinator in Cincinnati, Mike Zimmer, is now head coach.
The Bengals who received a third round compensatory pick in the 2015 draft for losing Johnson to free agency last year, now have the defensive end back. This is a solid addition to a Bengals’ pass rush which could not get to the quarterback after losing Johnson and Zimmer last season.
The Buccaneers release Johnson just one year after giving him a five-year $43.8 million contract. With the Bucs also losing DE Adrian Clayborn in free agency to divisional rival Atlanta Falcons the team is now in need of a pass rusher. They will certainly address their pass rushing needs in the upcoming draft but with the Bucs expected to draft Jameis Winston with the first overall pick they will have to wait until day two to address that need.