Buccaneers face $7 million question on Michael Johnson

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One of the benefits of the new trend toward pay-as-you-go contracts comes from the reality that, if the player doesn’t perform at a level worthy of his pay, the team can tell him to go.

Last year, the new regime in Tampa opted not to continue the year-to-year, $16 million annual deal for cornerback Darrelle Revis.  This year, the Bucs could decide to pull the plug after only one season with defensive end Michael Johnson.

Signed as a free agent after spending 2013 with the Bengals under the franchise tag, Johnson inked a five-year, $43.875 million deal with $23 million guaranteed.  Of that amount, $7 million will become fully guaranteed as of the third day of the 2015 league year.  Which means that the Bucs can avoid $7 million by cutting Johnson loose.

But here’s the problem for Tampa.  With $9 million already paid in 2014, the Bucs already owe Johnson another $7 million that is fully guaranteed, with no offset language.  So they’ll have to ask themselves whether they’re willing to let Johnson walk away with $16 million for one year — or whether they want to push the arrangement to $23 million over two.

Trading Johnson would be the best way to limit the investment to $9 million over one year, but who else would agree to take on $14 million over the next two years for a guy who is two years removed from his best season?  After notching 11.5 sacks in 2012, Johnson has a total of 7.5 since then.

So trading him won’t be easy, and keeping him won’t be cheap.  With $7 million already committed to him for 2015, the question becomes whether the Bucs are willing to make another $7 million commitment to justify the $7 million that’s already owed to the player.

14 responses to “Buccaneers face $7 million question on Michael Johnson

  1. We missed him here in Bengal land this year. I’d be happy to get him back at a fair price.

  2. This is a fact or is it just me— All players it seems have career years during their contract year and after they get paid its back to being an average player.

  3. Hard to do it by yourself. He was surrounded by great talent in Cincinnati not so much in Tampa.

  4. The Bucs got rid of Darrelle Revis because they were paying him too much money . . . then they turned around and made the same mistake with Johnson.

  5. Another Bengals fan here who hope that Marvin and Katie get on the phone the second the Bucs release him.

  6. The grass is not always greener… certain players excel in a system far better than they would on another team or system. Not sure how or why, but note the numerous Steelers players that have left and slowly faded away.

  7. The thing about the Bucs is they have this mentality that they are one player away from being a contender. While I applaud the aggressive demeanor of the front office, they should really focus on scouting and coaching up young players instead of poaching other teams players with obnoxious contracts that the said player never seems to fulfill.

  8. I agree….the Bucs are 20 players away from being a VERY GOOD football team. STOP over paying for other teams free agents and DRAFT, groom and pay your OWN orginal drafted Bucs !

  9. Tell you what…if Buffalo can’t keep Jerry Hughes for $8-$9 mill a year, trading for Johnson at $7 mill a year for 2 years wouldn’t be a bad idea…he’d get 10 sacks playing on that d-line up in Buffalo.

  10. luke8512 says:
    Jan 19, 2015 7:38 PM
    We missed him here in Bengal land this year. I’d be happy to get him back at a fair price.

    Everyone missed him in Tampa this year too.

    Name your price.

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