Trade-Seeking Johnson Has Favorable Contract

Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson isn't hiding his desire to be traded, and his contract numbers would seem to be a relatively good value in today's NFL marketplace. We review his contract details over the coming years and his situation after several Super Bowl-week interviews.

Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson used Super Bowl week to express his desire to be traded without ever actually calling for a trade. Instead, Johnson insinuated several times to various media outlets that if he was the problem in Cincinnati – and he made it clear he believes he's receiving the bulk of the blame – then the Bengals should trade.

While Johnson's penchant for speaking out and having fun with his words as well as his actions wouldn't seem to be an ideal fit with the Vikings' buttoned-up atmosphere, his salary is relatively friendly compared to other options.

Johnson renegotiated his contract in April 2006, adding two years and $10.75 million in new money. The deal now runs through 2011 with an annual average salary of $7 million, which would seem to be about market value. According to 2007 franchise and transition numbers, the average annual salary of the top 10 receivers in the league in 2006 was $7,040,000 – and Johnson was in that 10-pack. According to 2008 franchise and transition numbers, the average of the top 10 last year was about $6.9 million.

His production at the position is definitely top 10.

IN 2007, Johnson finished third in the league with 1,440 receiving yards – a Bengals franchise record –and tied for 12th in the NFL with 93 receptions. In 2006, Johnson led the league with 1,369 yards.

The Vikings' top two receivers in 2007 – Bobby Wade and Robert Ferguson – didn't combine for as many catches as Johnson. In fact, their top three receivers as far as yardage – Wade with 647, Sidney Rice with 396 and Ferguson with 391 – still came up 6 yards short of Johnson's yardage total in 2007.

A report on, citing an unnamed source, said that Johnson feels betrayed by Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis and would consider sitting out the 2008 season if he isn't traded, and Johnson's sometimes-vague answers in an interview with NFL Network last week seem to support that report. In January, Lewis shot back after one of Johnson's first interviews in which he intimated he wished to be traded.

"He's going to go back and be a pro and go forward and play. As I said then, there will be no trade of Chad Johnson. Repeat it again," Lewis was quoted as saying on

But that hasn't stopped Johnson from repeating his offseason "trade-me" mantra. "I want to go anywhere where I have the opportunity to win consistently, anywhere where I have a chance to get here (the Super Bowl), the playoffs. My time is ticking, my clock is ticking. I'm getting old," he told NFL Network last week.

Johnson's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, admitted to the Cincinnati Enquirer that Johnson has a lot of frustration over how last season went for the Bengals. After going 11-5 in 2005, the Bengals have been 8-8 and 7-9 in the last two seasons.

According to NFL analyst Adam Caplan, Lewis is desperate to win in Cincinnati and save his job, so he may not be willing to trade away one of his top offensive weapons.

Johnson has reportedly made overtures to the Miami Dolphins (telling Bill Parcells to call him), the Carolina Panthers (saying he's like to play with WR Steve Smith) and the Philadelphia Eagles (talking with one of their players about the team).

While there are a number of wide receivers that have been rumored to be on the trade market this offseason that are tantalizing fodder for Vikings fans, Johnson's production and contract would seem to be among the most favorable.

In 2008, he has a base salary of $3 million and is scheduled have a salary-cap hit of $6.52 with proration of his signing bonus and incentives. The salary-cap number inflates to $8.19 million ($4.5 million base) in 2009, but decreases again to $7.05 million ($5 million base) in 2010 and $6.35 million ($6 million base) in 2011.

For a receiver that now has six consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and 49 career touchdowns, that appears to be marketplace value and a much better value than some other receivers rumored to be on the potential trading blocks.

Whether the Vikings can stomach a receiver who says being quiet takes the fun out of the game is another question.

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