Buccaneers Making a “Hard Push” for Michael Johnson


Dec 23, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) is sacked by Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins (97) and defensive end Michael Johnson (93) during the first half of the game at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

As expected, the market for Michael Johnson is heating up close to the boiling point.

The Vikings are believed to be in pursuit of Johnson, and many still consider them the front runners to land him. But the Vikes are definitely not alone in coveting the Bengals defensive end.

The Chicago Bears are also believed to be in the bidding for Johnson. And then there are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs reported late Saturday night that Tampa Bay was making a “hard push” to acquire Johnson. “Makes sense,” Biggs tweeted. “[New Bucs coach Lovie] Smith wanted a DE first thing he got to Chicago.”

Tampa has a lot of defensive pieces but are somewhat lacking at defensive end. A player like Johnson might push the Buccaneers close to elite status among NFL defenses.

Acquiring Johnson would doubtless make new Bucs defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier very happy. And that would make Viking fans very sad.

If the Vikes should somehow lose out on Johnson, they could always turn to Everson Griffen, whose name has yet to come up in speculation. The top defensive ends like Johnson and Michael Bennett will have to come off the board before a guy like Griffen will really know what he’s worth on the market.

By the time the dust settles on the first round of free agent signings, the Vikings and Griffen may find that they are stuck with each other.

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