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Tender choices

The Bengals are set to tender another restricted free agent linebacker a one-year deal for $1.5 million. Jason Chayut, the agent for Brandon Johnson, said Tuesday the club put the second-round designation on his client.

But they are not going to tender restricted backup middle linebacker Corey Mays, according to agent Ian Greengross.

As a restricted free agent drafted in the fifth round, Johnson would have brought the Bengals a fifth-round pick if they tendered him $1 million and someone else signed him. But the Bengals must feel he raised his profile last year after he started the last nine games in place of the injured Keith Rivers at WILL linebacker.

After the Cardinals chose not to bring back Johnson following his second season, the Bengals signed him last March and he immediately impressed the coaches in the spring drills and training camp. Known as a good pass defender, he finished second on the team in tackles with 112, had seven passes defensed, and his two interceptions came in the win over Cleveland and the tie against the Eagles. He also finished tied for fifth with six special teams tackles.

Mays, popular with teammates and coaches, is headed to unrestricted free agency after finishing third in special teams tackles last season and second in '07. He mainly played on goal-line situations from scrimmage and made one of the plays of the year against the Redskins when they stood up 280-pound fullback Mike Sellers on the goal line on fourth down in the third quarter of a game the Bengals led, 17-10. Mays swatted the ball from Sellers and grabbed it for a touchback that led to a 20-13 victory.

"It was a surprise there was no tender," Greengross said. "He played well on the goal line and was a special teams captain."

Since Mays came into the NFL as a college free agent in 2006, the Bengals would get no compensation if they tendered him $1 million and he went elsewhere. That could be a clue on what they'll do with their other three RFAs, running back DeDe Dorsey, safety John Busing, and wide receiver Glenn Holt. They also came into the league in '06 undrafted.

With the franchise tag on kicker Shayne Graham ($2.48 million) and second-rounder designations on Johnson and SAM linebacker Rashad Jeanty, the Bengals have $5.48 million out on tenders.

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