Michael Johnson could make Bucs' D elite

March, 11, 2014
Mar 11
11:40
AM ET

Add a guy that had 3.5 sacks last season to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defense and what do you have?

Potentially one of the best defenses in the NFL.

That’s what I see after the Bucs came to an agreement with former Cincinnati defensive end Michael Johnson on Tuesday. The five-year, $43 million deal will be finalized after the league year officially begins at 4 p.m.

Johnson’s production was rather ordinary last season, and this might not seem like a big haul for the Buccaneers. But it is. Johnson is capable of producing a lot more than 3.5 sacks, as evidenced by the 11.5 he posted in 2012. He might have been the best edge rusher on the market, and that is something the Bucs sorely need.

Tampa Bay got only 6.5 sacks from its defensive ends in 2013. Plug in Johnson and the pass rush suddenly gets a lot better -- on paper. Heck, the entire defense gets better instantly.

If Johnson can deliver anything close to what he did in 2012, this defense could be elite. The interior of the defensive line is very good with Gerald McCoy, the linebackers are led by All-Pro Lavonte David, and safeties Dashon Goldson and Mark Barron are well above average.

Adding Johnson to the mix might make Tampa Bay an elite defense.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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