The Bengals have signed a second free agent.
Three days after inking unrestricted free agent wide receiver/returner Brandon Tate to a new one-year deal on Friday, the Bengals added another to the fold Monday, as they undertake what is expected to be their free-agency M.O again this year -- sign their own players.
The Bengals today signed exclusive-rights free agent backup center T.J. Johnson, who would have hit the open market Wednesday.
Johnson, 25, signed a one-year deal worth $600,000, according to a report.
Johnson, a seventh-round draft pick in 2013, spent one season on the Bengals' practice squad before making the 53-man roster in 2014. He made his NFL debut on September 21, 2014 against the Tennessee Titans.
Slotted behind starting center Russell Bodine, the 6-foot-4, 300-pound Johnson was active for the final 12 games of 2015 and the Wild Card playoff loss to Pittsburgh.
He doesn't play much, but the Bengals value Johnson's versatility and familiarity with the system. He set a career high last season with eight snaps in the 37-3 win against Cleveland Dec. 6.
Johnson set a school record with 53 starts while playing both guard and center during his college career at South Carolina. He earned Freshman All-SEC honors in 2009. He was selected to the second-team on Phil Steele's 2012 Midseason All-America and All-SEC teams. He played in the East–West Shrine Game following his senior season.
Johnson was selected by the Bengals with the 251st pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. He was signed May 8, 2013. Johnson was released by the Bengals on August 31. He signed to the team's practice squad September 1, 2013.
He was signed to a futures contract by the Bengals January 6 of last year.
Johnson attended Aynor High School in South Carolina. He was named first-team all-state by the Associated Press his senior year. He played in the 71st-annual Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas and was named to the All-Atlantic Region team by PrepStar magazine.