The cat got out of the bag earlier today, when Michael Smith of ESPN reported that running back Larry Johnson was on his way to Cincinnati.
Now, Jay Glazer of FOX reports that the Bengals have decided to sign Johnson, and that the Bengals are attempting to work out a deal with the seven-year veteran.
For now, the potential move is being sold by coach Marvin Lewis as an insurance policy only, presumably to give the team a graceful (or, as the case may be, less ungraceful) way to introduce Johnson into the locker room without disrupting the existing chemistry.
Frankly, we doubt that Johnson would be interested in joining the team under an arrangement that would keep him on ice until injuries render his services necessary. Since he’s already being paid by the Chiefs for the rest of the season, why not wait until an injury in Cincinnati or elsewhere actually happens?
Then again, it’s possible that Johnson has gotten no sniffs today despite a sudden rash of tailback injuries, with Michael Turner of the Falcons, Ronnie Brown of the Dolphins, and Brian Westbrook of the Eagles all possibly out for several weeks each, maybe longer.
Bottom line? Bringing in Johnson absent some precise, present need for him risks screwing up a team that currently is heading in the right direction. So Lewis’ words regarding Johnson’s role might have been intended not for Johnson, but for the 52 guys who’ll be wondering why one of their teammates was cut in order to make room for Johnson.