Bengals, Rudi near 5-year deal
Announcement on RB expected today
By Mark Curnutte
Enquirer staff writer
The Bengals and Rudi Johnson apparently will beat a league deadline of 4 p.m. today and are expected to announce that they have reached agreement on a five-year, $26 million contract.
The NFL has a 4 p.m. deadline today on contracts with franchise players before both sides must enter a four-month cooling-off period.
The four-year veteran running back is under contract for one year. The team's designated franchise player, Johnson signed the $6.3 million tender March 7.
The new deal would pay Johnson about $12 in guaranteed money with $16 million over the first three seasons, a source close to the situation told the Enquirer late Tuesday night.
"We're going to give it 100 percent effort," Peter Schaffer, Johnson's agent, said earlier Tuesday. "But I don't know if there is enough sand left in the hourglass. It won't be for a lack of effort on the parts of Troy Blackburn, Katie Blackburn, Paul Brown and myself."
The Blackburns and Brown are Bengals executives. Team spokesman Jack Brennan said the club had no comment on the Johnson negotiations.
If the sides don't reach agreement by the end of NFL business today, they can't negotiate again until the middle of July.
Johnson set single-season franchise records with 361 rushing attempts and 1,454 rushing yards in the 2004-05 season. It was his first as the team's featured running back, following the trade of Corey Dillon to New England.
Johnson had said in January that he would not play under a second consecutive one-year contract and thought that he deserved long-term security with the Bengals. He later changed his mind and signed the one-year tender - the amount of which is the average of the top five running back salaries in the NFL.
All along, Johnson has said he wanted to remain in Cincinnati.
I am not sold on him being worth the money. However, it is a good sign that he won't be costing 6.3 million this season.