Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Michael Johnson Signing Kicks Off New Era

By Andrew Fisher
Carlos Dunlap, Michael Johnson
Andrew Weber – USA TODAY Sports

NFL free agency isn’t officially underway, but the day’s first big news is already here. Michael Johnson will reportedly sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The DE has agreed to a five-year/$43.75 million deal, an amount of money that the Cincinnati Bengals simply couldn’t afford to pay him.

The signing of Johnson is significant for the Bucs in a couple of ways. Firstly, he’s a serious upgrade for their defensive line. There’s good reason that he was considered the top available DE this year — he’s dang good at his job. While Johnson’s sack total was kept in check last season (only 3.5), he did rack up 11.5 in 2012. Plus, as the saying goes, you pay players for what they’re going to do, not for what they’ve done.

Johnson is just 27-years old, and in Lovie Smith‘s system, he’ll have a chance to become one of the league’s premier pass-rushers.

Secondly, Johnson’s signing is significant because of what it could mean for Darrelle Revis‘ future. The consensus is that Revis will either be dealt or cut. Given that the Bucs just shelled out nearly $44 million for Johnson, they likely won’t want to continue paying Revis his $13 million base salary as well. That’s money that could divided up and spent on other areas of the team.

Will Tampa find a trade partner for Revis? It’s doubtful, but not out of the question. The kicker is that Revis’ contract isn’t guaranteed. That fact makes him a little more attractive for teams in need of help at CB.

Is it crazy to upgrade the DL over keeping arguably the game’s best corner? Smith apparently doesn’t think so, and it’s hard to argue against a proven defensive mind like his.


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