The Chicago Bears may miss out on their top two free agency targets. On Monday, Michael Bennett re-signed with the Seattle Seahawks on a four-year deal. With Bennett off the market, the Bears were expected to turn their attention to Cincinnati Bengals free agent defensive end Michael Johnson. Now, it appears that the Bears may lose out on Johnson as well.
Jason La Canfora of the NFL Network tweeted on Monday night that Johnson is expected to sign with the Lovie Smith led Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Bucs will be active in free agency, and are frontrunners for DL Michael Johnson (over $8M/year). Also strong push for T Anthony Collins
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 11, 2014
Johnson earning $8 million annually would be more than the $7.8 million that Bennett is earning per season with the Seahawks.
If the Bears miss out on Johnson, the team would be missing out on a defensive end who was rated on Pro Football Focus with the second best run defense rating of all 4-3 defensive ends last season. Though, Pro Football Focus considers Johnson to be an average pas-rusher.
It would appear that the Bears are deciding between having a run-defending defensive end or having a pass-rushing defensive end. The Bears are believed to be making a push for Oakland Raiders free agent defensive end Lamarr Houston as well as Johnson. Houston is considered to be an excellent pass-rusher.
With Johnson having big-money on the table from Tampa Bay, the Bears may put all their efforts into signing Houston.