i don't blame him. i don't know what kind of contract he has right now, but the guy put sup elite rb numbers and should get paid. lord knows he wants to get paid now before anything happens to him. if kc wants to use and abuse him they should at least pay him.
Rebels need causes. Without one, they appear foolish, immature and angry for no reason.
Larry Johnson is a rebel. It’s in his DNA — the mind that is always thinking, the comfort with confrontation, the desire to point out hypocrisy and the love of raw honesty.
Unfortunately for Larry Johnson and every football coach who has been blessed to coach him, football has been Larry’s lone cause.
Larry rebels on the football field. The results of that rebellion have been both breathtaking and frustrating. Johnson, Kansas City’s Pro Bowl running back, has set records and caused headaches with equal regularity.
The Chiefs are probably headed for a prolonged migraine this training camp. Without a new contract that pays Johnson $27 million to $28 million in guaranteed money or $25 million to $26 million over the first three years of the deal, I can’t imagine why Larry Johnson would report to training camp.
He can’t report to camp without a new deal. At age 27 and coming off a 416-carry season, it would be economic insanity for Johnson to play for the $1.7 million the Chiefs are scheduled to pay him. And he can’t sit back and wait for the Chiefs to slap him with the franchise tag next season.
“What a lot of people fail to understand is the NFL is the only sport without guaranteed contracts,” Johnson’s agent Alvin Keels reiterated to me in an e-mail on Friday. “If a player has played four years in the league and hasn’t yet cracked the starting lineup, and he was due to earn $1.7 million, it’s a good chance that the team would cut the player to avoid paying such a salary. That is the reason players hold out in the NFL. It’s the only leverage that most players have when trying to seek a compromise with their organization. In our case, Larry doesn’t want to hold out. He wants to be in camp with his teammates, but holding out is an option.”
Holding out is the only option.
The only real question is, what is Larry Johnson worth? Is he worth LaDainian Tomlinson money? And what is LT money?
Tomlinson, the league’s best back, signed a deal in 2004 that paid him $21 million in guarantees and a little more than $25 million over the first three years. Since Tomlinson signed that deal, there’s been a new collective bargaining agreement and a significant raise in the salary cap.
That’s why a year ago, Edgerrin James signed with the Arizona Cardinals for $14.75 million in guaranteed money and $25 million over the first three years. The first three years of a player’s contract is important because that is the money he is likely to receive.
What would Tomlinson command in today’s market? Probably $30 million in guaranteed and $35 million over the first three years.
So, in Johnson’s opinion, he is not asking for LT money. He’s asking for less than what LT would command today. Johnson wants a better deal than the one the Cardinals gave James. Does he deserve that? Yes.
Johnson is the second-best back in the league. James is not in his class. He made his name running the ball in Peyton Manning’s offense. It’s never easy to run the ball in the NFL, but running the ball with Manning and Marvin Harrison as distractions is a lot easier than what Johnson did last season for the Chiefs.
I can’t predict what Johnson will do if he gets his money. Will he become a better teammate, a stabilizing force in the locker room, less moody, less likely to text message during team meetings?
I don’t know. He’s a rebel who hasn’t found a worthy cause. There’s no balance in his life. As long as that’s the case, as long as he bucks against the legacy his father laid before him, I suspect LJ will have emotional problems.
But you never know when a cause-less rebel is going to get “it,” settle down and do something productive with his passion. Maybe all Larry needs is unconditional love (money) from the Chiefs.
Before anybody gets panicky over the possibility of Pro Bowl running back Larry Johnson staging a prolonged holdout or eventually bolting, just ask yourself: How often in recent memory have the Chiefs lost an impact player for financial reasons?
Not often. The highest-profile player let go during the Carl Peterson regime, which began in 1989, was linebacker Donnie Edwards, who went to the Chargers as a free agent in 2002 and has now returned. Edwards’ exit was a coach’s – not a financial – decision.
Some other decisions on whom to keep can be second-guessed, too. Letting Rich Gannon leave as a free agent after 1998 backfired, but that was a matter of picking the wrong quarterback, not quibbling over dollars. Defensive end Neil Smith had one Pro Bowl season left in him when he left for Denver after the 1996 season
The Chiefs surely would have kept backup wide receiver Joe Horn if they had any idea that he’d become a Pro Bowl player as soon as he signed with the Saints in 2000. And while the Chiefs certainly could use tackle John Tait now, they led the NFL in total offense each of the first two years after he went to the Bears in 2004.
The Chiefs don’t make a habit of losing Pro Bowl players still in their prime, unless you want to count quarterback Elvis Grbac after the 2000 season.
Wasn’t it just last December when perennial Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez was talking as if he already had one foot out the door? Within a week of the playoff loss at Indianapolis, he signed a five–year deal that virtually assures that he’ll finish his career in Kansas City.
Anyone who’s watched Peterson over the years should understand his modus operandi as a negotiator. He’s impervious to public pressure and his overriding obligations in contract matters are to spend his owner’s money prudently while strengthening the roster. He negotiates under the public’s radar and shows unshakeable patience.
When it comes to acquiring and retaining players, Peterson usually gives his head coach what he needs. A notable, exception, ironically, was his insistence on drafting Johnson with the 27th pick of the 2003 draft. Vermeil wanted to use the first-round pick to help the defense.
Johnson already is the hub of Herm Edwards’ offense and will be needed more than ever if the coach decides to break in second-year quarterback Brodie Croyle. As long as Edwards is around, the Chiefs will be built around power football and stingy defense. So why would anybody expect that Peterson and Johnson can’t find a way to accomplish what’s best for both?
Johnson wants to avoid a scenario where he plays the last year of his contract for about $1.92 million, then might be kept out of free agency by a franchise tag in 2008. He turns 28 in November and is seeking long-term security after establishing himself as the league’s second-best back, behind San Diego’s LaDainian Tomlinson.
A player under contract has two basic weapons to get more money: negotiate in public and threaten to withhold services. Johnson isn’t wasting either.
The best way for a general manager to build a winner is to draft wisely, then save the lion’s share of salary cap space to keep the homegrown stars. Spending big dollars for veterans who may be declining is a risky business, as the Chiefs have repeatedly learned over the past five years.
It’s always possible the Johnson negotiations could blow up, but that’s not very likely. He and the Chiefs need each other too much not to get a deal done.
This thread cracks me up... Two years ago when Javon Walker said the same thing to Green Bay, everyone at the Cafe freaked out and called him a money hungry pig... Now that it's Larry Johnson it's "only fair" for him to hold-out.