NFL Rumors: Will Cincinnati Bengals Use Franchise Tag on Michael Johnson?

(Andrew Weber/USA Today Sports)

For the second-straight season, the Cincinnati Bengals emerged as one of the biggest surprises in the NFL as they reached the playoffs before falling to the Houston Texans during Wild Card Weekend. One of the main reasons why the Bengals managed to reach the playoffs was because of their steller defense and with the NFL in off-season mode–it should be interesting to see what the team decides to do with defensive tackle Michael Johnson.

One of the top NFL rumors for the Bengals this week involves the possibility of slapping Johnson with the franchise tag for the 2013 season–which would most likely cost the team around $11 million. Cincinnati has a few options when it comes to using their franchise tag next season, but using it on Johnson may make the most sense considering the improvement he showed from 2011 to 2012.

Not only did Johnson set a career high in total tackles with 35, but he almost doubled his previous career high in sacks as well after finishing with 11.5 during the 2012 season. Johnson will be entering his fifth NFL season in 2012 and if the first four years are any indication–he’s only going to get better and better each season.

Whether or not the Bengals return to the playoffs in 2013 will heavily rely on the state of the defense and if they can take care of Johnson’s situation sooner instead of later–it will take a ton of weight off of their shoulders heading into April’s draft.

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