Viking fans would love to see Michael Johnson follow his old coach Mike Zimmer to Minnesota, but there could be a snag in the plan. Johnson might prefer to play in Atlanta.
Vaughn McClure of ESPN heard scuttlebutt at the Senior Bowl about Johnson eyeing the Falcons as a free agency landing spot. Johnson went to college at Georgia Tech and still has strong ties to the area. The Falcons have a need for exactly the skill set Johnson brings to the table.
The main problem for Atlanta? Lack of cap space. In the end, the Falcons may not have the money to sign Johnson, who should command top dollar on the market coming off a great run in Cincinnati.
The Vikings shouldn’t have any cap problems this offseason, with several big contracts coming off the books, and a few high-priced stars like Chad Greenway potentially being leveraged into re-negotiation.
Johnson, a defensive end with a unique combination of pass rush and coverage skills, would be a fine addition to the Vikings’ defense, but Everson Griffen arguably brings similar skills and retaining him would be cheaper than pursuing Johnson.
It’s well known that Mike Zimmer and Michael Johnson have a mutual admiration society going on, but loyalty doesn’t always trump financial reality. Rick Spielman will have to weigh all factors before committing Zygi Wilf’s money.