Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press is bringing Minnesota Vikings beat writers back to their roots. By that, I mean he was at the airport this morning hoping to catch a glimpse and get a quote out of potential free agent acquisition Michael Johnson.
The level of detail in the story is actually pretty cool.
Johnson revealed to Tomasson at the airport that the Vikings have extended him a lucrative offer to join a defensive line that currently features pass rushers Everson Griffen and Brian Robison.
“It was a great visit,” Johnson said. “It was great seeing Coach Zimmer and the team he’s put together. I’m glad I got the opportunity to come up here and talk. It’s really made things way tougher than I thought.”
Johnson spent his first five seasons with Mike Zimmer in Cincinnati where he became one of the more reliable NFL defensive ends, but he left for Tampa Bay last offseason as an unrestricted free agent, and after a flirtation with rejoining Zimmer in Minnesota.
“No lie. Before it all started, I thought, ‘OK, I’m probably going back to Cincinnati,'” Johnson told Tomasson. “There’s going to be some tears shed at the end of the day about my decision. It’s going to be hard.”
Mike Zimmer called Johnson while Tomasson was with him at the airport.
He doesn’t want me to get on the plane.
Johnson explained that he thinks of himself as a respectful person that honors his commitments and wanted to follow through on his promise to visit Cincinnati before making up his mind.
Johnson said that his family is supportive of whatever decision he makes and acknowledged he has former teammates and friends in Cincinnati “blowing up his phone” trying to get him to return.
As for his role in Minnesota, should he sign, Johnson said he is willing to do whatever is expected of him within the crowded depth chart.
Coach Zimmer is the mad scientist, he can have me doing whatever and I’ll play my tail off.
Currently, after the Mike Wallace trade, the Vikings are expected to be in the neighborhood of about $10 million under the cap. If Johnson also joins the team then there will almost certainly be more emphasis on getting current players like Greg Jennings and Brian Robison to restructure their contracts.