Pro Football Weekly put out a recent column on the Larry Johnson scenario, ultimately suggesting there's no market for the running back. In it, writer Michael Blunda makes the assertion that a release is needed sooner than later to send a message to the rest of the clubhouse and to serve as "the final nail in the coffin" of the old Chiefs.
While I appreciate the coverage and thoughtfulness of the article, it's clearly not the correct direction for Pioli and Co.
"Keen GMs will notice how much Johnson’s numbers dropped off once K.C.’s offensive line began to deteriorate; without All-Pro linemen creating gaping holes for him, L.J. hasn’t been anywhere near the same caliber of player. Since the club would be lucky to acquire even a late-round draft pick for the Penn State product, granting him a release appears to be its only option."
I'm not sure that I agree the Chiefs have exhausted all trade leads. Certainly Johnson is showing some good signs of remorse and being able to put this behind him just in time before the draft. With Pioli's ability to shift the proverbial shell game of the draft, I would think some value could be found here.
"Considering the team’s extreme lack of backfield depth, cutting Johnson might not excite Chiefs fans hoping to see their team win right away, since a platoon of Kolby Smith and Jamaal Charles isn’t likely to set the world on fire. But true Chiefs supporters interested in the organization’s long-term success should realize this is the right move."
Again, the right move would be to receive some level of compensation for a RB who just might register 1,000+ one or two more times in his career.
"Sometimes it’s just better to cut your losses and move forward. The Chiefs will be able to sign or draft another capable running back prior to the season, so it’s not like ridding themselves of L.J. would devastate their offense. In fact, in an attack that’s expected to focus heavily on the pass, he might not have had a significant role to begin with."
Doubt it. What other back is available with the clear ability to run at LJ's level? Sure you could make a case for Deuce McAllister but the obvious injury risk is there and, in my opinion, he's clearly not at LJ's level. And after that, it's a nightmare of a downfall in talent - to Michael Pittman, Ahman Green, Warrick Dunn and Rudi Johnson among others. In other words, it's not pretty.
"Ironically enough, the charges Johnson recently pleaded guilty to were for disturbing the peace. Keeping the peace in the Chiefs’ locker room is going to be critical if they hope to reshape their image as dysfunctional losers, and they don’t need Johnson around to disturb it. On and off the field, he already has done plenty of that in Kansas City."
Agreed. But let's get something in return or guarantee that our man is completely on board with the new regime. A simple release in this case is a bit too costly