It looks like things might be falling into place for the Vikings to pursue Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson.
Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer gave the Bengals a 20% chance to retain the star player. It would only be logical for the Vikings to go after him in free agency given Johnson’s connection to Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer. After Johnson was franchise tagged by the Bengals last year, it was almost a given that the team would struggle to sign him back. He earned a hefty 11.175 million last year and could be in for another big payday if he hits free agency.
Johnson is only 27 years old and is currently listed as Rotoworld’s top defensive end to hit free agency. Here are his statistics over five seasons with Cincinnati:
79 games played
- 45 games started
- 26.5 sacks
- 3 interceptions
- 26 passes defended
- 3 forced fumbles
- 2 fumble recoveries
- 129 total tackles
The Vikings are scheduled to have both Jared Allen and Everson Griffen hit free agency and will have a big need to fill the defensive end slot opposite Brian Robison. Johnson could be a realistic option to fill that hole so that Minnesota can be more aggressive in the draft and not have to draft a player at that position early on.
Minnesota’s general manager Rick Spielman isn’t shy to go after guys that he thinks will help the team, so expect him to at least put an offer toward Michael Johnson.