Vikings Free Agency: Michael Johnson Staying In Cincinnati?


Nov 17, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson (93) hugs defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer during the game against the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium. Cincinnati won 41-20. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Are Viking fans counting their chickens before they hatch on defensive end Michael Johnson?

Many fans practically have Johnson’s name up there on the Ring of Honor, but before Johnson can become the next dominant defensive lineman in Minnesota, he has to get out of Cincinnati.

And there are rumblings now that he may not get out of Cincinnati.

Pete Prisco has poked a hole in the conventional wisdom on Johnson. For months we’ve heard the Bengals have to let Johnson go because they can’t afford to pay him. But Prisco is hearing the Bengals will make a push to re-sign Johnson.

Still counting those chickens?

The Johnson-to-Vikings connection was a natural one to make after Johnson’s old mentor Mike Zimmer became head coach. The Vikings will likely have an opening at defensive end with the expected departure of Jared Allen.

And the Vikings have cap space to spend, almost $30 million by current projections.

Johnson is arguably the most attractive defensive end on the market. His sack totals weren’t impressive last year, but forget that. He is a disruptive, multi-talented player who can rush, defend the run and drop into coverage with almost equal proficiency.

The hulking 6-7, 270 pound Johnson was relatively unheralded coming out of college, but under Zimmer’s tutelage, he developed into a defensive stud.

It now appears the Bengals will make a serious effort to keep Johnson at home. If the Vikings indeed had Johnson in their plans, they may be forced to go to plan B.

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