- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Cincinnati Bengals went to their fallback option at returner and signed their first free agent from another team Saturday.
The Bengals re-signed receiver-returner Brandon Tate to a one-year contract, according to the NFL Network. Cincinnati decided to bring back Tate after Ted Ginn Jr., who received a contract offer from the Bengals, signed with the Panthers.
Tate is the franchise’s leader in punt return average (10.1 yards), but he averaged 8.9 yards last season, which ranked 18th in the NFL last season. He also averaged 24.8 yards on kickoff returns, which was 13th in the league.
The Bengals announced the signing of backup quarterback Josh Johnson, their first agreement this offseason with a player who didn't suit up for Cincinnati last season. Bruce Gradkowski, the backup for the Bengals for the past two seasons, signed with the Steelers. The addition of Johnson doesn't preclude the Bengals from drafting a quarterback in the middle to late rounds.
Johnson, who hasn't thrown a pass in a regular-season game since December 2011, was in Tampa Bay along with Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.
“We’ll be in a competitive situation for our backup quarterbacks,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “We like Josh’s ability and experience added to our mix.”
Cincinnati has now re-signed 11 of its own unrestricted free agents (which includes Tate, Roland and Quinn): linebacker Rey Maualuga; defensive ends Michael Johnson (franchise tag), Robert Geathers and Wallace Gilberry; cornerback Adam Jones; kicker Mike Nugent, punter Kevin Huber; long snapper Clark Harris.