Vikings Rumors: Michael Johnson Assumed to Be On Minnesota’s Radar


Last year DE Michael Johnson was signed to a rich contract by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the thought that he could be a pass rushing force in Leslie Frazier‘s pin-back-your-ears-and-get-the-QB defensive scheme.

More from Vikings Rumors

That thinking proved to be flawed and yesterday the Buccaneers minimized the impact of the error by cutting Johnson. The Bucs are forced to eat $7 million in guaranteed money on Johnson’s deal but they did spare themselves having to fork over another $7 million in bonuses. They recover $2 million in cap space by making the cut.

Bad scouting, bad signing.

With Johnson hitting the market, the immediate assumption was that the Vikings would look to sign the former Mike Zimmer protege whose performance in Cincinnati as a different type of defensive end than the one the Buccaneers envisioned led to his signing the huge contract in Tampa.

That assumption was given weight by the belief that Johnson nearly picked the Vikings last year in free agency but chose Tampa to be closer to his family.

In fact, mutual interest between Johnson and the Vikings does reportedly exist this time around, per Jenna Laine of Fox Sports 1.

In general, the Vikings would appear to be looking at player who could help their run defense by taking snaps away from the fading Brian Robison at left end. Adrian Clayborn and George Selvie have both been mentioned, though interest in those players seems lukewarm at best.

Given Johnson’s success in Zimmer’s system while a member of the Bengals, it seems a slam dunk that he would be an upgrade over Robison. Robison is fairly one-dimensional at this point while Johnson is known for being good both as a run defender and a pass rusher (if used correctly i.e., not the Leslie Frazier way).

At some point Thursday we could hear something more definitive about Johnson, who is also believed to be a Bengals target. The Vikings have been in wait-and-see mode thus far in free agency but a player like Johnson, who they wanted last year, might rouse them to act quickly.

Or there could be another player out there they truly covet and until they get that deal done they’re not going to be too aggressive going after anyone else. Johnson may be a nice fit but is he a priority over a big-time safety like Rahim Moore?

Next: Rahim Moore Would Be Splashy Signing

More from The Viking Age