Disappointing defensive end Joe Johnson isn't on the Packers' short list of must-sign veterans. When the numbers are crunched, however, it may be to Green Bay's financial advantage to keep the once prized free-agent.<p>
If the Packers cut Johnson, 32, they'll take a major hit against the salary cap. If he is cut before June 1, his entire $4.3 million in remaining signing bonus would come due. If they wait until after June 1, then about $1 million of Johnson's bonuses would count against the cap this year and the rest would be put off until 2005.
Neither of those plans sounds good for the Packers, nor does paying Johnson his scheduled $4 million salary in 2004. Instead, the Packers' best hope is to re-sign Johnson at a lower rate, based on his past performance – or lack there of. Johnson has missed 21 of 32 regular season games since the Packers lured him from New Orleans in 2001 with a $6.5 million signing bonus. He suffered a torn triceps in his first campaign here, then was sidelined last year with a knee injury.
Johnson has earned $9.65 million over those past two seasons.