It turns out, the Bucs are not done adding to their revamped offensive line. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Tampa Bay is signing former Bengals offensive lineman Fred Johnson to a one-year deal. Johnson is a utility offensive lineman who has started in spots for Cincinnati over the past three years. He was originally signed by Pittsburgh as an undrafted free agent in 2019.
Over the past three seasons, Johnson has started and played games at left tackle, right tackle and right guard. But he’s struggled in his 727 career snaps, especially as a pass protector. In 2021, Johnson played only 90 snaps and was often a healthy scratch on one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL.
While the former Florida Gator’s versatility is appealing to the Bucs, Johnson is expected to compete at tackle this offseason. Currently, veteran swing tackle Josh Wells remains un-signed. The acquisition of Johnson could indicate the Bucs are ready to go another direction at the backup tackle spot. Or perhaps Wells will be back, just with real competition for the job.
During his career, Johnson has struggled with more athletic rushers in pass protection. But there is no denying his power and nastiness in the run game. At 6-7, 326 pounds, Johnson has rare size and the physicality to make use of it. However, his technique needs to improve moving forward. He shouldn’t be considered a roster lock, but he will have a real chance to make the final 53 in training camp.