Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com writes that a Bengals free agent DE Michael Johnson‘s name surfaced at the Senior Bowl as a potential fit for the Atlanta Falcons. McClure was told that Johnson, a Georgia Tech product, would not mind “coming home.”
McClure notes that he has no information regarding interest on the part of the Falcons, but there certainly seems to be a fit there as it coincides with what Matt Miller of the Bleacher Report mentioned a few weeks ago.
Despite signing DE Osi Umenyiora to a two-year deal worth $8.5 million that included $5 million guaranteed last year, the Falcons still need help on their defensive line. Atlanta finished 29th in the league in sacks with 32.
This potential acquisition appears to be more economically feasible after Atlanta released CB Asante Samuel and LB Stephen Nicholas today, freeing up approximately $6.5 million in cap space. The Falcons could now have close to $13.5 million in cap space available this offseason.
It’s worth mentioning that Falcons owner Arthur Blank has said he does not anticipate making a “big splash” in free agency, so there is a chance that Johnson’s asking price could still be a bit high for Atlanta.
Johnson, 26, was franchised by the Bengals last year, but recent reports have indicated that Cincinnati is unlikely to use the designation on him again in 2014. Johnson figures to be in high demand during free agency, and could even surface as an option for the Vikings after they signed his former defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer as their new head coach.
We have Johnson listed as the No. 9 player in our Top 50 Free Agents list.