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Bengals DE Michael Johnson signs franchise tender

CINCINNATI, Oh. - Bengals DE Michael Johnson, who was designated March 1 as the team’s franchise player for 2013, today signed the one-year tender offer extended by the club as part of the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The signing ensures that Johnson will play for Cincinnati in 2013, at a salary specified by the CBA, and the franchise-player system allows Johnson and the Bengals until July 15 for the possibility of substituting a longer-term agreement.

Last season, Johnson helped lead the Bengals to the playoffs with 11.5 sacks, second-most by any Cincinnati player since 1983 (exceeded only by DT Geno Atkins’ 12.5 last season). Johnson’s sack total from ’12 stands as the fifth-highest in Bengals history.

“We are glad to have this accomplished and to know we’ll have Mike with us for all of our offseason work,” said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. “As I’ve said, making Mike our franchise player was part of the process to keep our defense together. It’s been a good defense the last couple years and with the right work it can be better. Mike has worked hard to improve himself every year during his time as a Bengal, and we have every reason to believe he will continue to grow as a leader and productive player. And we will stay in contact with Mike’s representatives about possibly doing a longer deal.”

Johnson (6-7, 270; Georgia Tech) is a fifth-year NFL player in 2013. He was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week after a three-sack performance on Sept. 23 at Washington. A Bengals third-round draft choice in 2009, he has played in every regular-season and postseason game of his Cincinnati career (67 total), and he has regular-season career totals of 23 sacks, two interceptions and 18 passes defensed.

“This guy has come up in our system, he plays about 85 percent of our snaps, and he’s the kind of guy we love to have around,” said defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. “He’s hard-working and a great team player. He’s an outstanding run defender in addition to his pass rush production. He’s got great length and size, and great speed off the edge.”


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