The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made their first major swoop in free agency.
The Bucs have signed former Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson, according to the Buccaneers official Twitter page.
Johnson has apparently agreed to a five-year deal with the Bucs worth a reported $43 million. $24 million is expected to be guaranteed.
One position of need for the Buccaneers going into the off-season was defensive end and they have signed arguably the best end available in free agency.
It’s also been reported that Johnson wanted to sign in Tampa Bay, a good indication that the Bucs are a team free agents want to play for.
His signing helps fortify a defensive line that had only 35 sacks last season and gave up over on average over 110 yards a game on the ground.
Johnson has been a productive player during his five-year career with the Bengals. He has 26.5 sacks during that time, including a career high 11.5 during the 2012 season. Additionally, Johnson is a good tackler for a lineman, as he has over 200 career tackles.
The 27-year-old, who is from Selma, Alabama, will be heavily relied upon to get to the quarterback. He joins a defensive line that already includes Gerald McCoy, Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers.
While McCoy will likely command the most attention, that should allow Johnson the opportunity to regularly disrupt plays. It should also remove some of the pressure from Clayborn, and particularly Bowers, moving forward.
The Buccaneers are going to have a lot of money invested in their defensive line over the coming years, particularly if McCoy resigns. However, defensive line has been too much of an issue over recent years to be ignored, so it finally appears that Jason Licht and Lovie Smith are serious about improving their efforts in the trenches.
Johnson measures in at 6’7 and weighs 270 lbs but has good speed for a lineman. He was a third round draft pick out of Georgia Tech.