Defensive end Michael Johnson was one of the big prizes in last year's free agency bonanza, and the Minnesota Vikings reportedly pursued him last off-season. He wound up signing a big-money contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers instead of re-joining Mike Zimmer in Minnesota.
Now, the Vikings are going to get another shot at him.
The Buccaneers have released Johnson, just one year into a five-year, $45 million contract. The Buccaneers did so despite the fact that it creates a $7 million dead money hit on their cap, largely because if Johnson had been on their roster tomorrow, his 2016 salary would have been guaranteed. So, they took the hit and released him.
According to Buccaneers' beat writer Jenna Laine, the Vikings and the Cincinnati Bengals (his former team) are interested in signing Johnson. I'm not sure where he would fit into the Vikings' scheme of things, though I would assume he could be seen as a replacement for Brian Robison sooner rather than later.
Also, let this be a lesson to those that have spent the last 36 hours or so freaking out over the Vikings' lack of action in free agency. Last season, the Buccaneers were declared to be one of the big winners for their signings of Johnson (who they've released), guard Anthony Collins (who was also released), and quarterback Josh McCown (who has been. . .you guessed it. . .released). They also signed guard Evan Dietrich-Smith and cornerback Alterraun Verner, both of whom were decidedly "meh" (at best) for Tampa Bay this past season.
Just like NFL seasons aren't won in Week 1, free agency isn't actually "won" in the first day or two. Sometimes, it might be best to just not "win" free agency at all.
UPDATE: According to Adam Schefter, Michael Johnson's first visit as a free agent, will be with the Vikings:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Recently-released Bucs DE Michael Johnson's first visit will be with the Minnesota Vikings, per source.</p>— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) <a href="https://twitter.com/AdamSchefter/status/576030791727218688">March 12, 2015</a></blockquote>
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This is a move that makes sense for the Vikings, because Michael Johnson is 4 years younger than Brian Robison, and excelled at the left end spot during his time in Cincinnati with Mike Zimmer. If anything breaks, we'll have it here for you!