The Bengals signed former Pro Bowl running back Larry Johnson on Tuesday and I'm a big fan of the move because there is no risk at all. If he acts up - which I don't think he will - the Bengals can cut his ass and he would be owed nothing.
I doubt that Johnson received much of a signing bonus. Furthermore, he's going to make the minimum salary for a seventh-year player, which prorated for seven games comes out to roughly $300,000.
Folks, that's s bargain for a guy that was one of the NFL's best running backs just three years ago and is still under the age of 30. OK, so he's barely under the age of 30, but it's still a nice find off the scrap heap for Cincinnati.
And the last time the Bengals signed a running back off the street that no one in the league wanted, it worked out pretty well.
Speaking of Cedric Benson, apparently his hip injury is not very serious and he might play against the Raiders this Sunday. However, what if it turns out to be more serious than we think? And what if he goes down again? Johnson is a very good insurance policy at a cheap rate.
I think Bernard Scott looks very good and I think he has a bright future in this league. I also like Brian Leonard as the third-down back. However, the Bengals are covering all their bases here and that's what good teams do. They build depth.
The running game is very important for this team and who knows if Benson can keep up the heavy workload he was given the first half of the year.
As for Johnson's checkered past, he clearly needed a change of scenery. Not that coming to Cincinnati will automatically make him a changed man, but I think now that he's nationally embarrassed himself and his family, he'll be careful to not get out of line for the rest of this season. I was impressed with what Johnson had to say during his introductory press conference on Tuesday which you can watch via Bengals.com here.
Again, from a Bengal fan's perspective, this is a good move because there is absolutely no risk. Well, unless you think Johnson is going to be a locker room cancer, but I don't think he will be. He has no clout on this team -- no room to act like a prima donna like he did in KC. Johnson knows he has to be on the straight and narrow or Marvin Lewis will show him the door. And if you watch the press conference, he clearly has a lot of respect for Lewis.
In addition, now that Chris Henry is out for the year, the Bengals need at least one punk on the active roster. It just wouldn't feel right otherwise. I keed, I keed!
Seriously, I don't think Johnson is a bad guy. I think he has proven he can be extremely immature at times, but I think getting cut and then no one in the NFL wanting him for a full week was a wake up call for him.
I also believe he's got some tread left in those tires. He's probably lost a step - that's what happens when running backs approach 30. But he was playing for a bad Chiefs team the last few years, so I don't put too much stock in his stats. I also think the losing got to him and that's what caused much of his discontent.
Many people considered Johnson the best RB in the NFL in 2005 and '06. So, getting a guy like that as a backup might be looked back on as a tremendous steal.
Man it's fun to watch the Bengals' front office operate like a real NFL franchise for a change.