The fact that we’re even discussing this goes to show just how poorly Johnson played in his first year with the Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay signed him to a five-year, $43.875 million deal with $23 million guaranteed last March. However, Johnson stands to make another $7 million fully guaranteed if he’s on the team’s roster as of the third day of the 2015 league year.
Florio mentions that the Buccaneers’ decision essentially boils down to whether they want to pay Johnson $16 million for one year or $23 million over the course of two seasons.
Florio suggests that trading Johnson would be the Bucs best move given that they would only pay him $9 million over one year. The problem, of course, would be finding a team willing to part with compensation for an expensive player that will cost them $14 million over the next two years.
According to OverTheCap.com, releasing Johnson outright would free up $2 million in cap space, but would also create $7 million in dead money. Waiting to June 1 to release him would give them $4 million in cap room to go along with $4 million in dead money.
Johnson, 27, recorded 27 tackles, four sacks and two forced fumbles over the course of 14 games for the Buccaneers. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the No. 53 defensive end in a 4-3 system out of 59 qualifying players.