Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson, the team’s 2013 franchise player, isn’t thinking about getting an extension. Which is a good idea, because the team doesn’t typically sign its franchise players to extensions.
“All of that stuff will take care of itself,” Johnson recently said, via Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I’m here. I enjoy being here and as long as I’m here I’m going to give them everything I’ve got.”
He’ll be getting paid very well to do that, at the one-year defensive end franchise tender of $11.175 million — well above the current market for pass rushers. Indeed, if the Bengals knew where the market was going, they surely wouldn’t have tagged Johnson. And then they surely would have rescinded it, if Johnson hadn’t wisely signed the offer.
With $11.175 million becoming the starting point for a long-term deal, and with the Bengals obligated to give him a 20-percent raise (i.e., $13.41 million) to keep him around for 2014, it should take a huge deal to keep Johnson from hitting the market in free agency next March. The more likely outcome is that Johnson will roll the dice on being one of the few to get overpaid, and the Bengals will replace him with a cheaper veteran alternative, or two.
That gives Johnson a strong incentive to have a big year, and to hope that the team does, too. One way to get overpaid is to bring a newly-minted Super Bowl ring to the player’s new town, and the Bengals should be regarded as a serious candidate to pull that off in 2013.