TUESDAY, 9:31am: Johnson’s deal will average $8.5MM per year with around $24MM guaranteed, tweets Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com.
8:49am: The Buccaneers and Johnson are in “serious discussions,” according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Meanwhile, La Canfora tweets that GMs and agents are treating the tackle market as if Collins is headed to Tampa Bay.
MONDAY, 9:10pm: The Buccaneers are the favorites to sign defensive end Michael Johnson, likely at a salary of over $8MM per year, according to CBSSports.com’s Jason La Canfora (via Twitter). La Canfora also notes that Bucs will make a “strong push” for Johnson’s teammate on the Bengals, offensive tackle Anthony Collins.
Johnson, rated as the fifth best free agent by PFR’s Luke Adams, was expected to draw heavy interest from the Vikings, but they are no longer seen as viable contenders for his services after re-signing Everson Griffen. He graded out as the fourth-best 4-3 defensive end in the league last season, according to Pro Football Focus, and was especially effective against the run. The Bucs could hope to pair him with another formidable lineman in Gerald McCoy and help to create a very stout front four.
Collins stepped in at left tackle for the Bengals as part of a reshuffling of the offensive line, and performed very well. He has experience at both tackle and guard, but likely wants to stay at tackle. Collins could slide in left tackle if the Bucs choose to release Donald Penn.