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Derrick Johnson’s new deal is a win-win for player, team

Image (1) nfl_johnson.jpg for post 962

The official numbers are out regarding the five-year extension signed by Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson.

And though the official numbers, as usual, aren’t as solid as the reported numbers, the gap is smaller than usual.

Per a league source, Johnson (as reported) receives $15 million in guaranteed money. We’re told that much of it comes from an increase in his 2010 base salary from $2.475 million to $19.475 million.

Johnson won’t get much of the difference because nine weeks of the regular season have elapsed. He’ll make $9.14 million over the balance of the year. He was due to make $1.2375 million from Week 10 through Week 17.

The base value of the deal includes $27.5 million in new money, with $18 million paid out over the first three years. With incentives based on individual and team success (including playing time, Pro Bowls, and wins), Johnson is eligible for annual incentives that can push the deal toward a maximum value of $34 million.

It’s a reasonable contract, good but not great, for a guy who was slated to become an unrestricted free agent in a year when it’s unclear when or if unrestricted free agency will ever begin. And the decision to reward Johnson for having a strong season is part of an apparent strategy on the part of the Chiefs to identify the right players around which to build, to offer them fair deals, and to work toward making the franchise successful.

More teams would be wise to identify soon-to-be unrestricted free agents and offer them the security that comes from a fair long-term deal. With the labor situation still up in the air, guys who don’t get paid now may not get paid for a long time.