Free agents can sign Tuesday, but Bengals staying inside

Posted Mar 10, 2014

Tuesday at 4 p.m. is when free agents can sign with other teams and the day begins with the weekend reports that right end Michael Johnson isn't expected to re-sign in Cincinnati.

The team most commonly associated with Johnson in the media is Tampa Bay. But it's not over until it's over. The Bengals covet the man they drafted at the top of the third round in 2009 and they have insisted all along they'd like him back if it fit into their pay structure up front. That's why they gave him the $11 million franchise tag last year. Yet with left end Carlos Dunlap working on a $40 million extension and two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins working on $55 million more, the Bengals are faced with a tightrope as defensive end salaries were reportedly up a couple million over 2013.

Reports also have the Buccaneers interested in left tackle Anthony Collins. But no matter what happens the Bengals aren't expected to pursue free agents from other teams if those spots, which are manned by their only free-agent starters, become open. Or, for the moment, for any backup spots. With at least nine picks expected May 8-10 in what is projected to be a deep draft, there's not much room on a roster that saw more than a dozen free agents re-upped last year.


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