Five Questions: Johnson to Bears?

The Chicago Bears could certainly use a primary receiver, and Chad Johnson doesn't want to be a Bengal anymore. Is there any way GM Jerry Angelo makes the call to Cincinnati and puts in a bid for the five-time Pro Bowler? JC jumps the top five hurdles standing in the way of that deal happening.

What would it cost the Bears to get him in terms of draft picks?
Since the Bengals are a passing team on offense and Chad Johnson is one of the elite wide receivers in the NFL, Cincinnati is simply not going to give its deadliest weapon away for pennies on the dollar. At the very least, it will cost the Bears their first-round draft pick at No. 14 overall and could very well take an extra second-day selection in order to get the Bengals to pull the trigger on a deal. Remember that trading Johnson will cost Cincy upwards of $8 million against the salary cap, so the offer would have to be substantial enough to satisfy a notoriously cheap franchise from flushing all that money down the toilet.

It's no secret that the Monsters of the Midway have to rebuild their offensive line if they want to get back to the playoffs this season, but adding Johnson would eliminate any chance of drafting a potential franchise left tackle like Chris Williams of Vanderbilt or Jeff Otah of Pittsburgh.

Does he fit into Turner's scheme on offense?
A wideout as talented as Johnson will instantly make any passing game much better, and he should be able to have an immediate impact in the Windy City assuming offensive coordinator Ron Turner uses him the right way. Turner likes to get the ball down the field as much as possible, and Johnson is certainly a deep threat since he averages 15.0 yards on his 559 career receptions. Slightly built at 6-1 and just 192 pounds, he's been fortunate to have T.J. Houshmandzadeh on the other side of the formation working the short and intermediate routes between the hashmarks so he can concentrate on making big plays vertically.

While he wouldn't catch as many passes in Chicago as he has in Cincinnati – he's averaged 92.4 receptions as a Bengal the last five seasons – he could step into the void left by the departed Bernard Berrian and be awfully dangerous off those play-action fakes Turner likes to employ.

Would all this uncertainty at the quarterback position be a problem?


WR Chad Johnson
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Johnson has been catching balls from Carson Palmer in the Queen City, a former No. 1-overall draft pick and the prototypical dropback passer in every sense of the word. The Bears, on the other hand, will head to training camp with Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton battling it out for the starting job, and neither is even remotely in Palmer's class from a talent perspective. Not to mention that head coach Lovie Smith wants his Bears to be a running football team first and foremost, so don't expect a sudden top-to-bottom change in offensive philosophy even if Ocho Cinco is in the mix at wideout.

A receiver can only be as good as the QB charged with the responsibility of getting him the ball, and neither Grossman nor Orton is capable of feeding Johnson's insatiable desire for the pigskin as well as Palmer – he'd be lobbying through the media for more touches by Week 3.

How long before he starts to be a nuisance in the locker room?
Nobody can deny that Johnson is a wonderful player who's coming off a career-high 1,440 yards receiving in 2007, but he's a diva more often than not both in good times and bad. He has been fined repeatedly by the NFL for his increasingly-scripted touchdown celebrations, and it's hard to ignore the reality that the Bengals haven't won a playoff game since 1990 despite Johnson's stastical achievements. The Bears value character – especially after the Tank Johnson fiasco – and don't have very many rock-the-boat personalities on the roster, so having to deal with his soap-opera antics on a daily basis would likely drive the organiztion batty.

All-Pro center Olin Kreutz is the unquestioned leader in the locker room, and he's not the kind of guy who's going to look the other way when a teammate is becoming a distraction – just ask Fred Miller.

Bottom line: Is there any way this deal goes down?
I'd be nothing short of shocked if the Bears actually made a serious run at Johnson and absolutely blown away if a trade came to fruition. It's in Johnson's best interest to be as much of a malcontent as possible and try to force Cincinnati's hand, but the Bengals have all the power in this situation and aren't going to be bullied into making a deal that severely handicaps them from a salary-cap perspective going forward. $8 million is a mighty big pill to swallow just to make a headache go away.

The Bears may need help at receiver, but there are bigger holes to fill right now on offense, there is no guarantee he will be as productive after switching addresses, and his me-first mentality makes him even more of a gamble.

John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.


Bear Report Top Stories