Guarantees for LJ frontloaded in extension with Chiefs
The lucrative five-year contract extension signed on Tuesday by Kansas City Chiefs star tailback Larry Johnson includes $43.25 million in so-called "new money," features an initial signing bonus of $12.5 million, and will pay the four-year pro more than $20 million before his 30th birthday.
The deal includes $19 million in guarantees, but nearly one-third of that is in the form of guaranteed base salaries during the first four seasons of the contract. And to earn the full $5 million in prorated roster bonuses included in the contract, Johnson must be active for all 16 games each season.
Details of the contract, which is essentially a six-year deal that runs through 2012 because Johnson had one season remaining on his original contract, were obtained through league salary documents.
For the 2007 season, Johnson will earn the $12.5 million signing bonus, a $750,000 base salary that is guaranteed, and a workout bonus of $50,000, for a total of $13.3 million. That base salary is a reduction from the $1.8 million Johnson was to have earned in base salary in the final year of his original contract, which he signed as a first-round choice in the 2003 draft.
The salary cap charge for the Chiefs in 2007 is a very palatable $3.356 million.
Base salaries for the extension portion of the contract are $2.5 million (2008), $4.55 million (2009), $5 million (2010), $5.3 million (2011), and $5.9 million (2012). Of those salaries, $2 million is guaranteed in 2008, with $3.5 guaranteed in 2009 and $250,000 in 2010.
There are prorated roster bonuses of $1 million each in 2008-2012, payable at the rate of $62,500 per each game that Johnson is on the active roster. There are also annual offseason workout bonuses of $100,000 each for the 2008-2012 campaigns. And in 2010-2012, there are offseason bonuses of $1 million each if Johnson is on the roster for the first day of the league year, typically defined as March 1.
While the salary cap charges are manageable for this season, they rise steadily after that -- to $6.156 million (2008), $8.206 million (2009), $9.183 million (2010), $9.483 million (2011), and $10.083 million (2012).
Counting all six years, the contract totals $45.05 million. And minus the $1.8 million that Johnson was to have earned under his original deal, the "new money" is $43.25 million.
Johnson, 27, signed the deal Tuesday after missing all the team's offseason workouts and training camp. He has not played in the Chiefs' preseason.
A former Penn State star, Johnson was the 27th player chosen overall in the 2003 draft. Playing behind Priest Holmes, he saw little action in his first two seasons, then became the full-time starter in 2005. In the past two years, Johnson has rushed for 3,539 yards and 37 touchdowns. Even more an offensive centerpiece under first-year coach Herm Edwards in 2006, Johnson set a new league record with 416 rushing attempts.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.
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