From the FanPosts -Primetime
In a bit of good news for Chiefs fans, it turns out that our amateur speculation on the cap hit we'd take for getting rid of Larry Johnson was a bit off and that trading away Larry Johnson is really no different than keeping him, from a financial perspective.
Per Adam Schefter:
For Kansas City to trade Johnson, it would cost the Chiefs $8.8 million against their salary cap next season. For the Chiefs to keep Johnson, it would cost Kansas City $8.2 million against it salary cap next season.
So that's a $600,000 difference between keeping him and dumping him. Question is, would that extra $600,000 be worth dumping Larry Johnson's baggage and his (occasional) production? To my mind the answer would be yes. Also, there's the question of what we could get in return for him.
Whoever is the new general manager for the Chiefs will have to weigh whether it is worth auctioning off Johnson to the highest bidder, hoping to get back, at best, a second-round pick and more likely a third-round pick and possibly some other late-round compensation.
Now before Chiefs fans get incensed that Johnson will bring back only a second-round pick — if he can even get that, as some league executives are not convinced — consider this:
Running backs don’t carry a tremendous value around the league. The upcoming draft is heavy in them again. Teams can draft running backs in later rounds — see Matt Forte, Steve Slaton, Peyton Hillis — and still get contributors. So Johnson will be worth maybe a second-round pick, probably a third, or possibly a third and a fifth.
So the question then changes to, would it be worth the extra $600,000 cap hit to us to dump Larry Johnson's baggage and (occasional) production if we're also able to get a first day draft pick for him? In that case my answer would change to a resounding "Hell Yeah!!!" Johnson will turn 29 next season, getting close to the end of the road as a running back. Regardless of what you think the reasons might be (offensive line, scheme, coaching, motivation) it is undeniable that he has not produced as much or as consistently as he did before his 400+ carry season of 2006.
Add into that the off-field issues, the expendability of running backs in the NFL and the chance of getting a solid starter out of the deal and I think that it's well worth the $600,000 to send Larry Johnson packing so he can become someone else's headache during the declining years of his career...even if we're only able to get a second-day draft pick out of the deal.
And for those who wonder how an underachieving, malcontent running back could merit a first day draft pick in trade, Schefter explains:
While Johnson’s contract is an albatross for the Chiefs, it is a blessing for other teams. Any team that trades for Johnson does not have to pay him any guaranteed money — other than the $5.5 million base salary that he is scheduled to make next season. In 2010, Johnson is scheduled to make another $7 million in base salary.
But if there’s a team out there that wants to upgrade its running backs, it has to ask whether it is better to trade for Johnson or sign a free agent such as New York’s Brandon Jacobs to a deal that is likely to include somewhere around $18 million in guaranteed money.
So even if trading for Johnson doesn't work out, other teams would still be able to cut ties with him without suffering a cap penalty...a low-risk, potentially high-payoff deal if ever there was one for the team that acquires him. And a much better payoff for the Chiefs than I suspect we'd get if we kept Johnson around.