I admit, when there's a "story of the day" or something close to it, I bleed it to a bloody pulp. Chad Johnson. Yes, we're back again. ESPN's John Clayton, via Rotoworld, said that he believes there's only a 20% chance that the Bengals will trade wide receiver, Chad Johnson. Only 20%?
Via Clayton, the Bengals are looking for a first-round and a third-round pick. Considering his age, uncertainty about his 2008 season, and likelihood that he'd demand a new contract, it would seem that the asking price could be a bit steep. There's two points of view that can be (and are right now being) argued here.
Johnson, at one point in his career, was elite, if not the most exciting wide receiver in football. He could score from anywhere on the football field, make awesome over-the-shoulder receptions, beat elite cornerbacks like Champ Bailey and make those body-go-limp catches on the sidelines like no other. He went to the Pro Bowl in five consecutive seasons, made two 1st-team All-Pro squads, led the NFL in yards receiving and ranks 14th among active receivers with 612 receptions. He once recorded 260 yards receiving in 11 catches in one game and reached the 200-yard receiving plateau one other time.
Face it, the guy could put up gaudy numbers. Many of us also recognize that if it wasn't for Johnson, then Houshmandzadeh wouldn't have had his name screwed up in fantasy football commercials. But that's speculative. Houshmandzadeh by himself was pretty good -- but would he have become as effective if not without Johnson? Defenses clearly feared Johnson, sitting back on the deep pass, often allowing Houshmandzadeh to roam underneath. We're not saying one way or the other, but I think the argument is there.
However, all the awesome-O that Chad produced came before 2008. Then he publicly went off about the Bengals. He didn't get a requested surgical procedure during the off-season that eventually set his timeline back; evident by the struggles that Johnson and Carson Palmer had because they were unable to work together during the off-season, thus slow on getting their timing together. He hurt his shoulder, but soldiered on. He was suspended a Thursday Night game against the Pittsburgh Steelers because he was late (overslept) for a team meeting that night and, reportedly, had a problem when Bob Bratkowski told him to wake up (or sit up). He caught more than five receptions only once and failed to record more than 79 yards receiving in one game.
The points here are that: 1) he was great and might be again 2) we have no idea what he's going to be about in 2009.
If there's any suspicion that 2008 wasn't an aberration, then teams aren't likely to fork over a first and a third. Then there's the whole new contract that most veteran players get after a trade. Not only would they give up two players drafted in rounds that are often considered foundation pieces, but how can you trade off a 30-plus-year old receiver for two 20-year old players that will likely be with your organization for 4-6 seasons (depending on how the new CBA is crafted)? The argument here is that Johnson is proven, while two draft picks aren't and the cap space issues are minimal through the first few seasons of a well-constructed deal.
Ultimately, whatever the Bengals are offered is what other teams see in Johnson. If they see the guy during his string of five Pro Bowls in five seasons, then a first and third round pick could be offered. However, if they see anything like what we saw in 2008, then in the simplest terms, no way.