The Buccaneers have reached an agreement on a five-year contract worth $43.75MM for defensive end Michael Johnson, according to Josina Anderson of ESPN (Twitter link). Anderson reports that the deal, which can’t be finalized until 3:00pm CT, will include $24MM in guaranteed money.
Johnson, who I rated as this year’s fifth-best free agent, ranked behind only New England’s Rob Ninkovich last season in Pro Football Focus’ run grades for 4-3 defensive ends. After recording 3.5 sacks in 2013, Johnson doesn’t appear likely to ever again match the 11.5 sacks he posted in 2012, but that performance at least showed that he’s very capable of rushing the quarterback as well.
The Bengals free agent was expected to draw heavy interest from Minnesota, but the Vikings essentially removed themselves from the mix by re-signing Everson Griffen to a lucrative five-year deal. In fact, Griffen’s five-year contract looks like something of a blueprint for Johnson’s deal, as the Bucs will owe Johnson slightly more than the $42.5MM ($20MM guaranteed) that Griffen received from the Vikings.
Once Johnson is officially locked up, the Buccaneers will have two of the league’s premier run-stopping linemen under contract, pairing Johnson with defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. According to PFF, no defensive tackle graded higher against the run than McCoy in 2013.
Multiple reporters had indicated yesterday and today that the Bucs were seriously pursuing Johnson, including Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.