We are about to move into the month of May and who would have bet four months ago that Larry Johnson’s name would still be on the Chiefs roster? Bob Gretz explains why LJ is still property of Kansas City.
Right now, Johnson is handling the situation better than just about anything he’s gone through in the last two or three years. He’s working hard in the off-season strength and conditioning program and he’s keeping his mouth shut. Both of those are smart moves. Whether it’s new agent Peter Schaeffer or the realization of his situation, maybe both, but right now L.J. has to hope that his future is in Kansas City.
That’s right, Kansas City, the same place he wanted to escape from so badly back in January now holds what amounts to his best hope of playing and making the type of money that’s called for in his contract. No team is going to pay Johnson the millions that are still left on his contract. That’s why no team will trade for him without a redone deal.
The only team that might pay is the Chiefs, but the only way that happens is if he works hard and conforms to the program between now and the start of the regular season. And, there’s one more thing he must do: he must show Scott Pioli and Todd Haley that they need him on the field and in the offense.
You can count me as someone that would have lost plenty of money if we were betting on LJ’s future with the Chiefs. I’ve said time and again that Johnson would be released as soon as the grievance over his contract was decided. Then he would be gone once the draft is over and here we are with Johnson still on the roster. I get why he is playing nice, but the question is: How long will it last? Lets say he works his butt off and makes the team. How long before the LJ we all know and love shows up and starts complaining about his role on the team now that his contract is guaranteed?
After firing most members of their college scouting department on Monday, the Chiefs continued to shakeup their scouting department by firing vice president Bill Kuharich, who was responsible for their pro and college scouting. Kuharich joined the Chiefs in 200 as their pro personnel director and was given oversight of the draft three years ago when Herm Edwards was hired as head coach.
When he was hired in January, general manager Scott Pioli was given wide latitude to create a personnel team around him, and he used it. A former VP for a different team said Kuharich and many of the Chiefs’ former scouts were well-respected around the league.
“We’ve all been through it. It doesn’t mean the people who are leaving aren’t quality football people. All it means is that Pioli wants his own people in there.”
Kuharich has 23 years of NFL experience. He spent 14 years with the New Orleans Saints before joining the Chiefs. His final post with New Orleans was as president and general manager.
I think the quote from the unnamed former team VP says everything you need to know. Kuharich is a good football man, he just isn’t Pioli’s football man. He will land another gig in this league as soon as he wants one. Pretty soon it will be hard to find any signs that Carl Peterson or Herm Edwards were ever in Kansas City.
Over at his AFC West Blog, Bill Williamson is reporting the Chiefs have $31.6 million in salary cap room. That is far and away the most in the division. Denver is closest with $12.5 million, then Oakland with $8.2 million and San Diego with $7.8 million.
If you’re wondering about the few places Scott Pioli has spent money, Arrowhead Pride has broken down how much every new acquisition has cost.
Other than spending $14.65 million on Matt Cassel, Pioli has scraped the bottom of the barrel as far as paying free agents. He inherited Mike Vrabel’s contract from the Patriots and spent a million plus on Zach Thomas and the restricted free agents.
There is no need to spend money for the sake of spending money, but it will be interesting to see how much of this cap space Pioli ends up sitting on. In the past few days I’ve mentioned Leroy Hill from Seattle who recently became an unrestricted free agent and would immediately boost the Chiefs linebacking corps. Others have been talking about Edgerrin James, though I don’t see how he fits in with the team concept. As Williamson mentions, maybe they go after Jason Taylor? The thing is, there are no names out there that are no brainers to drop a large contract on and at the end of the day we end up at the idea of spending money for the sake of spending.