FLOWERY BRANCH — With free agency set to start at 4 p.m. Tuesday, teams can keep negotiating with their own players in order to keep them from reaching the open market.
The Falcons, who were in “active talks” to retain the services of offensive lineman Mike Johnson, reached a one-year contract extension on Monday.
Johnson, after a productive 2012 season as the jumbo tight end, was set to take over at right tackle last season before he suffered a dislocated left ankle and fractured fibula during an exhibition season practice with the Cincinnati Bengals.
The injury required surgery and he was placed on injured reserve.
Johnson was injured on the first play of the 9-on-7 inside run drills. He left the team’s facilities in an ambulance.
Johnson played in all 16 games in 2012 and made one start. The Falcons were hoping that Johnson would be an athletic upgrade over the gritty Tyson Clabo, who was released last offseason.
Johnson was highly touted coming out of the SEC and Alabama. Falcons defensive tackle Corey Peters said that Johnson was the toughest player he faced while playing for Kentucky.
Johnson, a four-year starter at Alabama, was a third-round pick (98th overall) in the 2010 NFL draft.
The Falcons, who have elected not to use the franchise or transition tag this offseason, have now signed Johnson and defensive tackle Corey Peters to a one-year contract extensions.
The Falcons’ list of potential unrestricted free agents include defensive tackle/end Jonathan Babineaux, center/guard Joe Hawley, defensive tackle Peria Jerry, tackle Sean Locklear and tackle Jeremy Trueblood, tight end Chase Coffman, cornerback Dominique Franks and linebacker Omar Gaither.