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Bengals add another former player, sign QB Josh Johnson

4/2/2015

CINCINNATI -- Consider this the Cincinnati Bengals' version of "Back to the Future."

For the fourth time in less than a month, the Bengals signed another former player as they start adding roster depth ahead of next month's minicamp and organized team activity workouts.

On Thursday it was quarterback Josh Johnson, a backup who spent the 2013 season with the Bengals before serving as an inactive backup in San Francisco last year. Johnson was on the 49ers' roster for 13 games in 2014, but he wasn't part of the 46-man game-day lineup for any of them.

In Cincinnati two seasons ago, he appeared in two games. He didn't log any offensive statistics in either, but he was on the active roster each game that year as the top backup quarterback behind starter Andy Dalton. The seventh-year veteran will be vying for a chance at resuming those duties this year.

Bengals team president Mike Brown already has given second-year quarterback AJ McCarron a nod of approval. At last week's owners meetings, he told reporters he believed McCarron had what it took to be the team's No. 2 quarterback.

For that reason, among others, don't read too much into Johnson's signing. He appears to have been added as a camp body, brought back to give the Bengals a little extra competition at the quarterback position heading into spring and summer. Veteran Jason Campbell, signed last March to a one-year deal, still is an unrestricted free agent. The Bengals had hoped earlier this offseason to bring him back, but Johnson's return seems an indication they are moving on from the 33-year-old Campbell, who backed up Dalton this past season.

The Bengals believe Campbell's addition was important last offseason as Hue Jackson began his first season as offensive coordinator. Jackson coached Campbell in Oakland in 2010 and 2011, so the veteran knew his terminology and system and was used as a buffer to Dalton, who got to know Jackson's game plan for the first time.

Now that Dalton has spent time in Jackson's system, it's not as important he have that bridge to the coordinator.

The Bengals still could draft a quarterback, as Brown also indicated at the owners meetings. There's enough second-tier quarterback talent in the draft this year that they could find a player who could increase the competition for the No. 2 spot behind Dalton. In the event that player doesn't work out, then the Bengals still will have Johnson.

Also on Thursday, ESPN Insider Field Yates labeled the Bengals as a team that had a "veteran [quarterback] signed, but questions remain." The listing was part of an insider post Yates had about teams that needed to draft quarterbacks.

Last month, the Bengals also signed in free agency defensive end Michael Johnson and cornerback Brandon Ghee, two other players who also spent the 2014 season elsewhere after having played in Cincinnati. Defensive tackle Pat Sims came back last week after having been in Oakland the previous two seasons.