Chris Mortensen of ESPN is reporting that the NFLPA is ready to douse some water on the idea of the Kansas City Chiefs simply deactivating Larry Johnson for the rest of the season upon his return from suspension on November 9th.
On Sunday NFL Countdown, Mort reports, "The union is ready to file another grievance if LJ is not restored to his prior playing status as a starter."
A common thought among many of us was that the Chiefs could simply deactivate LJ for the rest of the season preventing him from being released and signing with another team for another contract in addition to his 2009 salary with the Chiefs, which is guaranteed.
Not so, says the NFLPA, who reportedly would fight such a scenario.
Also, complicating matters is the situation with LJ last year when then head coach Herm Edwards did not officially suspend the player, instead simply deactivating him for three games. This is part of the reason the Chiefs settled with LJ yesterday, since technically this would not have been "progressive discipline" by the team.
The league eventually stepped in last year and suspended him for one game.
Mort also points out, as we've discussed in this space before, that the NFL may have indirectly saved LJ $330,000 by not handling the situation themselves. If the NFL had issued the suspension, the Commissioner's office would hear all appeals, decreasing the likelihood of losing an appeal. Since the team issued the suspension, it opened themselves up to a grievance that would have been heard by an independent arbitrator, thus the settlement before the hearing.
Mort's report begins to add some substance to the folks that are saying LJ will remain a member of the Chiefs. It may be easier for them to just keep him, and avoid any reaction from the NFLPA, than release him and face a fight with the union.
(H/T CT Chief Fan in the FanShots)