Tuesday afternoon during a fascinating, discussion between Jason Whitlock of the Kansas City Star and Larry Johnson and his 28-year-old agent, Alvin Keels, there seemed to be a clear impression that that the Pro Bowl running back believes he may be forced to sit out training camp to resolve his contract impasse with the Chiefs. The conversation, as it turned out, never turned combative. But Larry was raw and honest as usual.
“He’s going to test me,” Johnson said of team president Carl Peterson. “I’ve talked with Herm (Edwards) about it,” Johnson replied. “Herm said he doesn’t even know the money I’m asking for. He said he doesn’t really care. He said I’ve done a lot in terms of OTAs (organized team activities) and minicamp to buy into the program. He said he’ll talk with Carl and those things will get handled. It all depends on how the upstairs people play it.” OK, so if that’s the case, are you prepared for a long holdout?
“I’m prepared,” Johnson said matter-of-factly. “They (my agent and father) got me saving money. I’m hustling to get more money to put in the bank. They already started setting aside different accounts, if that would have to happen. They’re already telling me to be cautious about how I spend, where I go and stuff like that. To make sure that if it goes down like that, then I’ve got to be able to pace myself so I won’t be in trouble.” Currently, Larry is on the books to make $1.7 million this season, a very small sum for a fifth-year player with his resume. Speculation has centered on Johnson seeking a contract that falls between the deals given LaDainian Tomlinson ($21 million in guarantees) and Peyton Manning ($35 million in guarantees).
“The point I’d like to get out,” Keels said, “is that if we were to have to hold out, it would be for the sake of good business, not being greedy. I think the picture that is being painted right now in the eyes of the fans is that we’re coming into this negotiation being greedy. It’s not good business for a player who rushes the ball 416 times in a season, back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons, back-to-back 1,700-yard seasons, back-to-back broken Kansas City Chiefs records, it’s not good business for him to come back in and play for $1.7 million. And that’s a sensitive area because $1.7 million is a lot more than most people in Kansas City make.”