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Johnson maintains same outlook about contract
07/09/13 at 4:49pm by Joe Reedy 1 Comments
With Michael Johnson unofficially set to play this season on a one-year franchise tag, the defensive end was on Sirius NFL Radio on Tuesday and has maintained the same outlook that he has had since February — whatever happens will happen.
Said Johnson about his contract situation with Bruce Murray and Rich Gannon: “I’m the right defensive end and I’ll play in every game and do my best for the team. I can’t worry about that and prepare myself day in and day out. There is no ill will on either side, it’s a business. They have to make these moves much like players have to do the same thing. I have to go out and perform. The bottom line is to help the team win.”
Johnson’s salary for this season is $11.175 million, which is the highest in team history for one year. Of the eight players who received the franchise tag, Johnson was the only defensive end to receive one.
If you thought last year’s free agency period caused some angst, next March is going to be more stressful. On the defensive line, Johnson, Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins could all become unrestricted free agents. With Johnson playing on the tag, the hope is that the team reaches an extension with Atkins sometime this season or that there is repeat from two years ago when Leon Hall, Andrew Whitworth and Kyle Cook reached extensions before the start of the regular season. At worst, Atkins should receive the tag in 2014, which this year for a defensive tackle was $8.45 million.
With next year being the first time that the team can talk extensions with Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, it also isn’t feasible where they could keep Atkins, Dunlap and Johnson. Atkins and Green will easily reach the top five in salaries at their respective positions by the time a new deal is done. That leaves Dunlap and Johnson to battle for a contract.
Johnson, who is in his fifth season, was second on the team with 11.5 sacks last season. It is the second-most by any Cincinnati player since 1983, exceeded only by Atkins’ 12.5. Johnson has played in every game of his Cincinnati career (67 total). He has regular-season career totals of 23 sacks, two interceptions and 18 passes defensed.
Dunlap has also made an impact, but has yet to get through an entire season without being injured. All three years he has missed significant time in training camp and the preseason due to injuries. Since recording 9.5 sacks as a rookie in 2010, he has 10.5 the past two seasons.
It basically comes down to this — can Dunlap duplicate his rookie season and get through the year injury free and can Johnson improve on what he did last year? Whoever does that will receive an extension here while the other will be one of the most sought after free agents in next year’s class.
Said Johnson about his chances of remaining in Cincinnati: “I really can’t put a number or guess on it. They know I want to be there and they know I like to be there. It’s going to play out how it plays out. Play this year and worry about this stuff when the dust settles.”