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Bengals RB Rudi Johnson signs tender

CINCINNATI (March 7, 2005) -- Running back Rudi Johnson signed a one-year contract to stay with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Johnson, who set a Bengals single-season rushing record last season with 1,454 yards, is still free to negotiate a long-term contract with the team, and he says he wants to do that.

Johnson became a free agent March 2, but the Bengals had designated him their franchise player, meaning they could retain him by matching any offer sheet he signed with another team.

Under the NFL's collective bargaining agreement, a franchise player is due a salary that is the average of the top five salaries paid to players at the same position the prior season.

The deal allows the Bengals to keep Johnson while they see whether Chris Perry, their top draft choice in 2004, will develop into their running back of the future. Perry was sidelined for much of his rookie season by injuries.

Johnson broke the team rushing record that Corey Dillon, now with the New England Patriots, set with 1,435 yards in 2000. Johnson set another Bengals record with 361 carries, exceeding Dillon's 340 in 2001.

Johnson also tied the team record for 100-yard rushing games in a season with five. He led the Bengals with 12 touchdowns.

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