Carl Wins

First, I'd like to thank Chiefs General Manager Carl Peterson and team owner Clark Hunt. Judging by the time elapsed from Monday's column (in which I urged the team to sign Larry Johnson post-haste) to the hour that LJ signed on the dotted line, it's obvious the King takes my counsel seriously. I'm honored.

But I was honestly shocked when I heard the terms of Johnson's contract extension.

Six years, $45 million, $19 million guaranteed. I'm not complaining, but did Johnson lose his nerve? This one went down like Peterson had a coupon for superstar running backs in his back pocket.

Attention, attention Larry Mart shoppers! Aisle 27, 25 percent off all 1,700-yard rushers!

Score one for Carl. This might be his best-played deal ever, considering LJ's status and the financial climate of the modern-day NFL.

Nineteen million dollars is a hefty sum for any one man. But here's the truth: the Chiefs got Larry Johnson for a song.

We can only assume that at some point during negotiations the King and his court completely convinced Larry and his agent, Alvin Keels, that he was nowhere near the player LaDainian Tomlinson is. The deal San Diego's running back signed in 2004 completely blows away LJ's deal when you compensate for inflation (LT received $21 million guaranteed).

That brought Johnson tumbling down from his initial demand of $80 million and $34 million guaranteed. Meanwhile, the Chiefs barely nudged up from their first offer and sat at the table for months, stone-faced.

But really. Nineteen million? As Jason Whitlock so aptly pointed out on Tuesday, Larry must really love football. When you compare his new deal to those signed by other players this offseason, it's downright disgusting.

The Saints gave Charles Grant, a defensive end who hasn't sniffed a 10-sack season since 2004 (and has 8.5 combined over the last two seasons) $20 million guaranteed. Patrick Kerney, who's already hit 30 and sat out half of 2006 with a torn pectoral, got $19.5 guaranteed from the Falcons.

Are defensive ends more valuable in today's NFL landscape? Yes, but what about marginal offensive guards? Derrick Dockery ($18.5 million) and Leonard Davis ($18.75 million) just moved into the same tax bracket as Johnson. Obviously these guys need some extra coin to cover their quintuple-extra-large wardrobes, but neither have ever blocked for particularly good running games.

Heck, how about a tight end? Yes, a tight end. Denver's Daniel Graham lined his pockets with $15 million in guaranteed money this offseason.

And the greatest slight of all? When the Chiefs traded for Patrick Surtain in 2005, he was generously given $14 million in guaranteed money. Again, adjusting for inflation, it's not hard to see the sheer audacity of LJ's extension. How much money do you think Surtain earned for his lone interception last season? Larry's touchdowns were cheap in comparison.

This isn't a criticism of Peterson and KC's brass in the least. On the contrary, they should be commended. The Chiefs not only secured their most important player of the millennium to a long-term deal this offseason, but they filled six starting positions (left tackle, outside linebacker, middle linebacker, defensive tackle, wide receiver, place-kicker) through the draft and free agency for a collective pittance (especially in comparison to the rest of the free agent market). And these weren't bargain basement players in talent, either. This offseason might rank as the King's finest.

But let's get real here. Numbers aside, number 27 is now number one on KC's salary cap.

It's time to act like it.

I may be your biggest fan, Larry, but I can easily be your biggest critic. As the top dog in the Kansas City kennel, you've got to lead the pack. And no barking.

That means playing nice with the media – no matter what they say. Lead by example on and off the field (judging by Wednesday's press conference, Johnson is already slipping comfortably into this role).

Become a complete player. Perhaps it's no coincidence that Larry's first two plays at practice yesterday involved blocking and catching.

To that end, get out on the practice field and hit that blocking sled until the stuffing falls out. Become best friends with the JUGS machine. No loafing on pass routes. Stop slouching. Stand up straight. Tuck in your shirt.

In short, button that 19-million dollar button.

But above all, make us proud.

And stop driving 110 miles an hour. You cost way too much money.

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