Legendary sports columnist Sid Hartman celebrates his 95th birthday March 15, 2015. Hartman wrote his first column for the Star Tribune on Sept. 11, 1945, and continues to write and work from the Star Tribune's downtown office several days a week.
The Vikings have come up short in their pursuit of free-agent defensive end Michael Johnson.
The Bengals announced that Johnson has decided to go with his former team instead of his former coach, agreeing to return to the Bengals instead of reuniting with Mike Zimmer with the Vikings.
Full terms of the deal are not yet known, but it is reportedly a four-year agreement.
Johnson was in town Friday to visit the Vikings. He checked out Winter Park, toured the area, saw the new downtown stadium site and had dinner with team officials. But Zimmer and the Vikings were unable to talk him into signing a deal before he headed to the airport yesterday morning.
The Vikings and the Bengals were believed to be the only teams Johnson was strongly considering, and in the end he decided to with the Bengals, who drafted him in the third round back in 2009.
The 28-year-old had 26.5 sacks in five seasons with Zimmer and the Bengals. He spent last season with the Buccaneers, who released Johnson on Wednesday after he had just four sacks in 2014.
It’s unclear where the Vikings will turn to next after missing out on Johnson. They had interest in other free-agent defensive ends, but many of the top ones are now off the market. Greg Hardy, George Selvie, Mathias Kiwanuka and Da’Quan Bowers are among the more notable names left.