Top Ten Tech NFL Players- #3 Michael Johnson

Now that we are deep into the NFL offseason, let’s go back and take a look at the Tech players who performed the best on the field last season. I believe the most informative and exciting way to do this is to make a Top 10 list, counting down from 10 to 1. I’ll post one player a day for the next ten weekdays, so make sure to keep up and share your opinions by commenting below. The next player we are going to talk about and the number three player on this list is Michael Johnson, a DE for the Bengals.

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Michael Johnson was drafted in the third round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Bengals. He has played all 4 years of his career with Cincy, developing into a very good DE. In his first two seasons, he had 3 sacks and 2.5 sacks respectively. Then like most young DEs in the league, he started to show signs of promise. In his third season, he had 6 sacks and 42 tackles. This was a nice improvement from his 2010 season, and really excited the Bengals fan base. Last year, Johnson really performed well, starting in all 16 games and tallying 52 tackles and 11.5 sacks (one behind the team lead). His impressive performance in 2012 forced the Bengals to franchise tag him, since they did not want to lose a potential game-changing DE.

Some might worry that Johnson had a big year in the final year of his contract, but I don’t see this as an issue. He has shown gradual improvement over the last two years that lead me to believe his game is a product of excellent coaching. He has also benefitted from playing next to Geno Atkins, who has turned into arguably the best 4-3 DT in the NFL. Playing next to another great player helps alleviate blocks and lets him focus on rushing the passer.

Johnson will be on a one year contract going into next year since he was franchised, and I expect him to have another excellent year. The Bengals need him to have another double digit sack year to make sure they can keep up with the Ravens in their division. I don’t see him changing in the rankings next year however, unless he can post at least 15 sacks on the season and get his team deep into the playoffs. The two players that are currently ahead of him are in their prime and are playing at All-Pro levels, so he has his work cut out for him. With that said, Johnson has turned into one of the best young 4-3 DEs in the league and is in an excellent position to improve on last season’s impressive numbers. Below are the rankings so far.

#10 Vance Walker- Atlanta Falcons

#9 Jonathan Dwyer- Pittsburgh Steelers

#8 Dawan Landry- Jacksonville Jaguars

#7 Derrick Morgan- Tennessee Titans

#6 Daryl Smith- Jacksonville Jaguars

#5 Philip Wheeler- Oakland Raiders

#4 Morgan Burnett- Green Bay Packers

Stats from ESPN.com.

2013 NFL Free Agents

The NFL Free Agency period begins at 4 P.M. on March 12th and there are quite a few former Georgia Tech players looking for a job. As we get closer to the beginning of FA, I’ll write a few posts about certain Tech players and where they should end up. For now, Michael Johnson is the only player who knows where he’ll be next year. He was franchise tagged by the Bengals, ensuring he will be with them for at least one more year. Here’s the rest of the free agents this year.

UFA (Unrestricted Free Agent)- Player is allowed to sign with whatever team he would like at the start of the FA period.

RFA (Restricted Free Agent)- The player’s old team places a qualifying offer on them and the player is allowed to talk to other teams. If the player signs a deal with another team, his original team is allowed to match the offer. If they choose not to match it, they will receive draft pick compensation in the round the RFA was designated in. This is somewhat confusing and it makes it pretty hard for RFA to sign with a different team because most teams don’t want to give up draft picks for players.

Exclusive Rights Free Agent- These FAs have two years of NFL experience but are not currently on a roster. If their former club offers them a three years veteran’s minimum contract, then they must take it or else not play in the NFL.

RB

Tashard Choice- UFA

Jonathan Dwyer- RFA

Anthony Allen- Exclusive Rights

TE

Will Heller- UFA

OT

Andrew Gardner- RFA

DE

Michael Johnson- Franchise Tagged

DT

Vance Walker- UFA

LB

Keith Brooking- UFA

Daryl Smith- UFA

Philip Wheeler- UFA

Gary Guyton- UFA

Free Agent info was acquired from footballfutures.com

Michael Johnson Franchise Tagged

According to Adam Schefter, the Bengals have decided to franchise tag DE Michael Johnson. As most of you know, Johnson played at Tech and has turned into a double digit sack end for Cincy. He should get a nice check with the tag, but another year of production should get him a huge contract. Although it isn’t a good thing to be on a one year contract, he should benefit from it because he is still a young player. As we get closer to March 12th(NFL FA begins), I will start updating you more with player movement.