Instead, the Bengals decided to give big money to one of the team's other pass rushers.
NFL.com's Albert Breer reported that the Bengals signed Carlos Dunlap to a six-year, $40 million contract. He is set to earn $20 million over the next two seasons. Another $4.5 million is available in incentives, with the team's official website indicating that the formal contract announcement might arrive Tuesday. The five-year extension runs through 2018. ProFootballTalk.com first reported the news.
Dunlap only has two career starts and 20 sacks in three seasons, but he's quietly developed into one of the most underrated pass rushers in the AFC. We tabbed Dunlap this weekend as one of our favorite emerging players in the entire league. He posseses rare explosion for a man of his size.
This looks like a big contract for a relatively unproven player who has struggled to stay healthy. But we think the Bengals smartly are buying low. If Dunlap plays to his potential, this contract could look like a bargain one year from now.
It also could make it tougher to sign Johnson and defensive tackle Geno Atkins to long-term deals next offseason.
Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.