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Reports: Michael Johnson linked to Bears, Vikings, Bucs

Michael Johnson's agent is a popular man right now.

During the first 24 hours of the three-day negotiating period, the Cincinnati Bengals free-agent defensive end has been linked to at least three NFC teams.

On Saturday, we broke down the Minnesota Vikings' obvious interest -- given a need at pass rusher and Johnson's familiarity with new coach Mike Zimmer.

The Vikings aren't alone in their pursuit of the 27-year-old pass rusher.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are "pushing hard" to sign Johnson, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Lovie Smith's interest in Johnson is not a surprise, as the new Bucs coach added pass rushers when he took over the Chicago Bears. His scheme depends on the front four's ability to get pressure without aid.

Smith might have competition from his former team, however. The Bears' first choice reportedly is defensive end Michael Bennett, but Chicago has inquired about Johnson, according to ESPN Chicago. The Bears are in desperate need of a pass rusher who can take the place of the declining Julius Peppers.

Of course, as NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport points out, the Bengals also have interest in bringing back the defensive end.

Even the Philadelphia Eagles had Johnson on their radar early on in the process but, according to Philly Mag's Tim McManus, they were out of the mix as negotiations got "heavy" Saturday.

The popularity of Around The League's No. 1 available defensive end is no shock. Even with his inconsistent play, Johnson's combination of youth and production rarely hits free agency. In a growing market, it's a good season to be a free-agent defensive end, especially the most popular one.

The latest "Around The League Podcast" picks the biggest free agent bargains and plays the revolutionary game: "Get my lunch."

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