While the NFL and NFL Players Association have finalized the official non-exclusive franchise designation amounts, no team has used the mechanism with just three days remaining before the March 4 deadline.
That will be changing soon. The Bengals plan to apply the $11.175 million franchise tag to defensive end Michael Johnson, a source close to the player told NFL.com's Ian Rapoport.
Just 26 years old and coming off a breakout season as a strong run defender with 11.5 sacks, Johnson was ranked No. 1 on Around the League's list of this year's top free-agent pass rushers.
With more salary-cap space than any other NFL team, the Bengals can turn their attention to a long-term deal for Smith and standout defensive tackle Geno Atkins before attempting to lock up Johnson by the July deadline for tagged players.Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.