Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson, who was designated as the team’s franchise player for 2013, signed a one-year tender worth $11.175 million Friday.
The signing ensures Johnson will play for the Bengals in 2013. Johnson and his agent, Rick Smith, have until July 15 to negotiate a longer deal.
Johnson recorded a career-high 11.5 sacks in 2012, which was the second most by a Cincinnati player since 1983, surpassed only by the 12.5 defensive tackle Geno Atkins recorded as the duo helped the Bengals to the No. 6 defensive ranking in the NFL.
Johnson’s 11.5 sacks are the fifth most in Bengals history.
“We are glad to have this accomplished and to know we’ll have Mike with us for all of our offseason work,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said in a statement. “As I’ve said, making Mike our franchise player was part of the process to keep our defense together. It’s been a good defense the last couple years and with the right work it can be better.”
A fifth-year player from Georgia Tech, Johnson was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week after a career-high three-sack performance on Sept. 23 at Washington. A Bengals third-round draft choice in 2009, he has played in every regular-season and postseason game of his Cincinnati career (67 total), and has regular-season career totals of 23 sacks, two interceptions and 18 passes defensed.
“This guy has come up in our system, he plays about 85 percent of our snaps, and he’s the kind of guy we love to have around,” defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer said. “He’s hard-working and a great team player. He’s an outstanding run defender in addition to his pass rush production. He’s got great length and size, and great speed off the edge.”
Skuta scoots: Bengals unrestricted free agent linebacker Dan Skuta signed a two-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers on Friday.
Skuta was one of the Bengals’ top performers on special teams since signing as an undrafted college free agent out of Grand Valley State in 2009. He played 56 games for the Bengals, with four starts.
He had 56 special teams tackles in his four seasons, including a team-high 17 in 2012.
The Bengals have six linebackers under contract for 2013 — Vontaze Burfict, Brandon Joiner, Emmanuel Lamur, Aaron Maybin, J.K. Schaffer and Dontay Moch, although there is still a chance unrestricted free agents Thomas Howard and Rey Maualuga could be re-signed.
Spaeth visits: Free agent tight end Matt Spaeth visited the Bengals on Friday. A six-year veteran, Spaeth spent the last two seasons with the Chicago Bears. He played in all 16 games in 2012 with eight starts and had six catches for 28 yards with one touchdown.