Revisiting Chad Johnson’s contract situation

Now that Cincinnati has deactivated wide receiver Chad Johnson for tonight’s game in Pittsburgh, it is worth revisiting a story that was filed in late July.

The story noted that the Bengals would revisit Johnson’s contract situation if he were on his best behavior this season.

Yet something happened in Pittsburgh to call that into question. Here’s what the story posted in July said….

Cincinnati and Pro Bowl wide receiver Chad Johnson struck a deal Sunday that really is no deal.
Each side wins. The Bengals get a quieter, happier Johnson in camp, on time, just as he promised; Johnson gets assurances that — if he is on his best behavior this year on and off the field — the Bengals will consider reworking his contract.

Let’s talk … later

It is a gentleman’s agreement that prevented any holdout and propelled Johnson into training camp on Sunday, the same day his agent Drew Rosenhaus was spotted in Cincinnati with Bengals officials. Rosenhaus was also seen in Cincinnati during the Bengals’ last minicamp.

Rosenhaus, when contacted, declined comment, something Johnson rarely did during an offseason in which he consistently voiced his displeasure with the organization. But in recent weeks, Johnson’s tone has changed, and it did so in part because Cincinnati’s attitude with him has softened.

At least the Bengals are willing to listen to Johnson and his demands after the season, something they were unwilling to do this offseason.

It’s a smart move on Cincinnati’s part. After this year, the Bengals can offer Johnson a below-market contract and still live up to their end of the agreement.
But for now, it is a gesture that Johnson apparently appreciates enough to put aside any concerns about his contract and focus on the season ahead.

After this season, Johnson will have two years left on a contract that pays him an average of $6 million per season. These days, after an offseason in which wideouts such as Terrell Owens and Steve Smith were awarded new deals, the league’s top receiver deals are earning in the $8- to $9-million-a-year range.

Cincinnati could face a critical negotiation period, not only for Johnson, but for Pro Bowl wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, whose contract expires after this season. But those are issues for another day. For now, the Bengals have done what they can to make promises and peace.

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