Bengals continue youth movement by cutting three veterans

The Cincinnati Bengals’ youth movement continued on roster cut-down day, as defensive end Michael Johnson became the next veteran to be released.

To reach the NFL roster limit of 53, the Bengals made 32 player moves Saturday.

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Johnson, a 10th-year player who has spent eight of the last nine seasons with Cincinnati, led a trio of vested veterans to have their contracts terminated, joined by H-back Ryan Hewitt and backup center T.J. Johnson. All three are released to free agency and are able to sign with another team or re-sign with the Bengals.

Selected by the Bengals in the third round of the 2009 draft, Michael Johnson leaves the team with 44 career sacks, eight forced fumbles and three interceptions. His 13.5 sacks over the past three seasons were third most on the team, right behind Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap, who had 29 each and both of whom earned long-term extensions earlier this week.

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“He’s one of those pillars that’s been here, given everything he can to this building,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “Those are tough conversations to have, just like it was with Ryan Hewitt and T.J. Johnson, guys who gave everything they had.”

Hewitt, who signed a three-year extension in August of 2016, had struggled to find playing time in recent years, as his snap count diminished every season since joining the team as an undrafted college free agent in 2014. He played just 11.1 percent of offensive snaps last year and was in for just 18 snaps this preseason. T.J. Johnson is entering his fifth season and had appeared in 45 games with five starts for the Bengals the past four years.

Cincinnati also placed sixth-year quarterback Matt Barkley (knee), H-back Cethan Carter (shoulder injury) and safety Trayvon Henderson (knee injury) on Injured/Reserve. All three were injured in the preseason finale Thursday against Indianapolis.

Versatile defensive back Josh Shaw, a fourth-round draft pick in 2015, was the most experienced of 25 players waived. The fourth-year player was injured and could revert to the Bengals’ Injured/Reserve list Sunday if he clears waivers. Sixteen of the waived players were rookies, including fifth-round draft pick Andrew Brown, who was competing with Josh Tupou at defensive tackle.

The other players waived were: Linebackers Brandon Bell, Chris Worley and Junior Joseph, safeties Tyrice Beverette, tight end Moritz Böhringer, wide receivers Jared Murphy, Kayaune Ross, Ka’Raun White, Kermit Whitfield and Devonte Boyd, kicker Jonathan Brown, running back Quinton Flowers and Brian Hill, H-back Jordan Franks, cornerbacks KeiVarae Russell and C.J. Goodwin, center Brad Lundblade, offensive tackles Justin Murray and Kent Perkins, defensive tackles Chris Okoye (injured, may revert to Reserve/Injured), Simeyon Robinson and Eddy Wilson and quarterback Logan Woodside.

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