If the NFL is poised to crack down on Chad Johnson's end zone choreography in 2006, with its recently implemented rules aimed at curtailing touchdown celebrations, the Cincinnati Bengals star wide receiver is better prepared now to handle any of the fines that he might incur.
The three-time Pro Bowl performer and consummate showman, one of the most explosive playmakers in the league at any position, on Thursday signed a new contract with the Bengals, ESPN.com has learned. The lucrative deal includes a one-year extension, through the 2010 season, and an option for the Bengals to extend the contract through 2011, if they so desire.
In essence, by restructuring the remainder of Johnson's existing contract, which was set to run through the 2009 campaign, the Bengals created a six-year deal with a total value of $35.5 million.
"In terms of 'new money,' and just being unique from the standpoint of being able to do something for a player who still had four years left on his [existing] contract, it's really monumental," said agent Drew Rosenhaus, who was hired by Johnson a year ago to upgrade his contract "As long as I've been doing this, I've never been able to get an extension like this, basically because of the time remaining on the contract. It's historical. And it's a testament to Chad, and how well he's performed, and to Bengals management for the way they have handled this and the commitment they've made to him."
Under his existing contract, Johnson would have earned $5.75 million in 2006-2007 and the base salaries due him through 2009 totaled $12.15 million. The new contract will pay Johnson $16 million between this season and 2007 and, assuming the Bengals exercise the option for 2011, a total of $35.5 million. That's a whopping $10.75 million in "new money" for the extension portion of the contract.
Johnson will receive a $5 million signing bonus, a $250,000 reporting bonus, a $250,000 workout bonus and a base salary of $2.75 million for 2006. That base salary is the same as he was scheduled to make under his previous contract. In 2007, he is due a $3.5 million option bonus, a reporting bonus of $1.5 million, a $250,000 workout bonus and a $2.5 million base salary.
The base salaries for the balance of the deal are as follows: $3 million (for 2008), $4.5 million (2009), $5 million (2010) and $6 million (2011). There are workout bonuses of $250,000 in each of those seasons. If the Bengals do not exercise the option for the 2011 campaign, they must make Johnson a non-exercise payment of $3.5 million.
Said coach Marvin Lewis: "This is a key development for our team. It further secures our future with one of our top players, in the prime of his career, and I want to commend Chad for his efforts in making it happen. He is showing his commitment to what we have going here."
Earlier on Thursday, before signing the new contract, Johnson joked to ESPN.com that he was ready to deal with the rules against excessive end zone celebrations that league owners approved at the annual NFL meetings in Orlando, Fla, last month.
"Get yourself real close to the TV, because I'll have some good stuff planned," Johnson said, laughing. "I still plan to be the greatest entertainer in the league."
The five-year veteran, selected by Cincinnati in the second round of the 2001 draft, certainly has developed into one of the NFL's greatest playmakers. The former Oregon State star has posted three straight seasons with 90-plus receptions and four straight campaigns with over 1,000 receiving yards. In 76 appearances, 63 of them starts, Johnson has 379 receptions for 5,556 yards and 34 touchdowns.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.