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2014 Free Agency: Falcons Linked To Michael Johnson

The free agent Cincinnati Bengals defensive end could be an option for the Falcons.

Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE

The Falcons need to improve their pass rush, whether they do so by signing free agents, acquiring talent through the draft or both. The team will be linked to many candidates between now and the start of the season, but there's a clear, early favorite.

That would be Michael Johnson. Vaughn McClure wrote the following about the free agent Bengals defensive end:

There was one intriguing name of a veteran pass-rusher thrown out at the Senior Bowl. Once again, this is not necessarily a player on the Falcons’ wish list, but he was brought up in a discussion regarding the Falcons and free agency. As I was told, this player wouldn’t mind ``coming home’’ to Atlanta.

If the Falcons do dip into free agency, Johnson would seem to make sense. He's just 26 years old, he has 26.5 sacks over five seasons and has swatted down 25 passes. He's a solid player across the board, put up 11.5 sacks just a year ago

The concern, of course, is that he's another Ray Edwards, someone who is more useful as a complementary piece than a featured pass rusher. That might not matter if the Falcons draft Jadeveon Clowney and he comes as advertised, but it's a legitimate concern, particularly given his decreased production in 2012. There's also the small matter of cost, with some estimates giving Johnson a $9-10 million annual salary, which might be a little pricey for the team's blood.

Still, there's little doubt he'd be an upgrade over what the Falcons have, so let's hope there's interest.

Your thoughts on Michael Johnson?