Thursday Morning Cup O’Chiefs

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?

The NFL Draft passed without Johnson being dealt away. There was little chance of that happening anyway, because there is no market for Johnson when it comes to a trade. There’s just too much baggage for teams to seriously consider making a deal for him, even for something as low as a seventh-round choice.

There’s his contract, which is significant even if Johnson lost the grievance hearing that lifted the guarantee from those dollars this season. There’s the possibility of further sanctions from the NFL for his off-field problems, especially after he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge in a plea bargain with those two assault charges. And, there’s the fact he’ll be 30 years old in November.

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.

First of all, 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.

There’s so much bad information out there about that grievance hearing over Johnson’s contract. The Chiefs did not file the action, neither did Johnson. It was filed by the NFL Players Association. The Chiefs weren’t trying to prove anything, other than to defend the language in the deal that lifted the guaranteed money in this year’s salary because of his suspension. The whole action was pushed by the NFLPA.

Once the Chiefs language was upheld, there was no reason for the team to make any move with Johnson. The only way they owe L.J. the money is if he’s on the roster for the first game of the regular season. Any player who makes the 53-man roster for the opener is guaranteed his contract, even if he’s released that next week.

So in essence, L.J. has between now and the season opener to prove to the Chiefs he can help them in the offense. He needs to show them on the practice field, in training camp and during the pre-season games that he can still run with the power and the anger that made him so good in 2005-06.

The Chiefs might still pull the plug on him; there are no guarantees. They hold all the cards and all the leverage. They could lower the boom on him tomorrow, or they may take him right up to that first week and then cut him, or ask him to take a reduced contract. Or, they might view him as an important part of what they want to get done in ’09 and keep him, play him and pay him.

That last factor is something Johnson can control. In fact, it’s the only thing he can control.

His actions would indicate he understands that fact.


As expected, VP of Player Personnel Bill Kuharich was released by the Chiefs on Wednesday.

His departure brings to seven the number of personnel department people who have been axed by the new regime: Kuharich, director of college scouting Chuck Cook, scouting coordinator Bruce Lemmerman and area scouts Cornell Gowdy, Mike Hagen, Matt Littlefield and Greg Olejack. There are others that could be gone as well, but their names have not surfaced yet. The Chiefs have not released any information on the moves.

Kuharich worked hand-in-hand with Herm Edwards in attempting to rebuild the Chiefs roster over the last two years. Much like Edwards, he believed the way to go was to draft young players and put them on the field, resisting the temptation to go out and sign older veterans to fill out the roster. Unfortunately for both Edwards and Kuharich, that approach brought a 6-26 record and cost them their jobs.

Reportedly, the Detroit Lions called the Chiefs back in January for permission to talk with Kuharich about a job. For some reason, the Chiefs denied the Lions permission, even though it was well known throughout the league that Kuharich would be out of a job come post-draft.

A good man, with a wealth of experience and one of the better talent evaluators in the league, Kuharich will not be unemployed for long.


CB Jackie Bates, 5-9, 183 pounds, Hampton. A transfer from the University of Oregon, Bates was with the Ducks for three seasons, playing in 21 games with nine stars and contributing 67 total tackles with two INTs. He appeared in two games and got a medical red-shirt for that season from the NCAA. Bates transferred to Hampton and played in 17 games for the Pirates, missing five games last year with a hamstring injury. At Hampton he had 76 total tackles with four INTs.


BRONCOS – released WR Jayson Foster, FB Andrew Pinnock and TE Adam Bergen.

CHARGERS - released TE Scott Chandler and CB DeJuan Tribble.

LIONS - released TE Michael Gaines and QB Drew Henson.

PATRIOTS – released LB Bo Ruud.

SAINTS – release DT Hollis Thomas.

24 Responses to “Thursday Morning Cup O’Chiefs”

  • April 30, 2009  - Harold C. says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong…but the only years Johnson was actually a powerhouse were the years we had that superior offensive line….isn’t that right? Since that line has disintegrated he hasn’t been up to par.

    If the Chiefs don’t have the line….
    and considering LJ committed a crime….
    our RB may run out of time….
    and find he’s not worth a dime.

  • April 30, 2009  - Steve says:

    Why haven’t the Chiefs signed more undrafted free agents?

  • April 30, 2009  - Mike says:

    Bob – We all know the reason Kuharich wasn’t allowed to go to Detriot. You don’t let your VP of Player Personnel go to another team two months before the draft. He’s been working on this draft for a couple of years now. Even though Herm and Pioli may be looking for a different type of player to fit a different scheme, you still need to use the resource that you have until the draft has passed. Kaharich can go talk to Detriot now and accept whatever job they may offer him. I understand you know these men personally and they are probably very good at their jobs, but the facts are the facts. This team has not won a playoff game since 1993. Change is needed all over the organization.

  • April 30, 2009  - findthedr says:

    Your article on LJ is a little misleading Mr. Gretz. Although the chiefs ‘won’ by not having the remaining portion of LJ’s contract guaranteed (as you stated), they ‘lost’ by not being able to recover a pro-rated portion of LJ’s signing bonus that he was aldready paid for games he was suspended last yr (which you didnt mention).

  • April 30, 2009  - Scott says:

    Yeah…it will be interesting to see if LJ remains a member of the team.

    As it stands right now, though…we really don’t have anyone to replce him.

    If we don’t sign a FA running back…I’d say it will come down to training camp, and whether or not anyone we have can step up into the #1 RB slot. If LJ can’t prove that he’s by far the best on our roster, I think he’ll be gone. He makes too much money to be the #2 guy, or a “role” player. And I’m not sure what that “role” might be anyway. He’s a poor receiver and he won’t block.

    As far as his age? Yeah, he’s 30…but he barely played his first couple of years. So, his “mileage” isn’t as high as his age might indicate.

  • April 30, 2009  - Rip 'em a new one says:

    Harold C,

    Not a bad limerick.

  • April 30, 2009  - RedandGoldRice says:

    Steve says:
    Why haven’t the Chiefs signed more undrafted free agents?

    I think they’re loading up for training camp bodies. And it never hurts to look at CFA. You can every once in a while find a gem. At 5-9, I don’t think he’s got much of a chance, but what do they have to lose?

  • April 30, 2009  - arrowhead1978 says:

    LJ definately did become a subpar running back as soon as the O-line disintegrated, but really the timing is funny because it was as soon as he held out for his contract, then got hurt that year and was just coasting until now… He has to run hard again if he wants to get paid, which is what every player in the NFL should be doing in the first place.

  • April 30, 2009  - Scott says:

    Yeah, arrowhead1978…that definitely seems to happen to a lot of players. But moreso for running backs, it seems. They play really hard for a couple of years, just enough to get to that one big payday. Then they get it, and they’re never the same.

    I’m curious to see if LJ can convince Haley and Pioli that he’s worth the money he’ll make this year. If I was betting, though…I’d say that he will not be a member of the team on opening day.

  • April 30, 2009  - Niblick says:

    Scott-I agree that LJ will probably not be here on opening day. We still don’t have a power back on the roster to replace him. I suppose we go running back by committee, at least for this year. Charles is a situational or 3rd round back, and the rest of our running backs are not really power backs. I suppose Edge James could be brought in to give us 10-12 carries a game. He’s a very good blocker.

  • April 30, 2009  - colby says:

    I don’t recall ever seeing a player go from being a beloved icon to being the most hated guy in town as quickly as LJ has these last two years. His reputation is deservedly shot. I’m rooting for him to regain some cred. He has a lot to prove and plenty to make ammends for, but if (and it’s a big if) the offensive line plays well, then LJ has a chance to return to form. Maybe not the 1700 yard monster he was a few years ago, but perhaps a solid presence who manages 1100-1200 yards and around 20 receptions.

    So long as he’s in here working hard and not being a locker room cancer, I’ll root for LJ to make a comeback. At the first sign of trouble though, he needs to go. He’s on his last chance in my opinion. My main concern at this point is that the league will suspend him for the 1st game and we’ll go to Baltimore with Charles, Williams, and either Savage or Battle as our RBs. Baltimore is already a tough D, but without a workhorse to take pressure off of the passing game and control the clock, it could be long, painful day for Cassel in his Chiefs regular season debut!

  • April 30, 2009  - colby says:

    Also, in my post, I’m assuming the worst about Kolby Smith’s injury. I have no real insight into this but I think he and Croyle will start the season on the PUP. They both suffered injuries that take a year to fully recover from and they suffered those injuries midway through the season. Hopefully Smith is ready by opening day, but I have yet to hear anything that would suggest he will be.

  • April 30, 2009  - Scott says:

    I think we’ll end up bringing in some more RB’s to compete. I don’t know if we’ll see any big name FA’s (like Edge) come to town. But, there’s NO WAY that Haley and Pioli don’t know that we need help in the running game.

  • April 30, 2009  - arrowhead1978 says:

    Colby your right, but you watch enough 3rd and 1′s that he just didn’t fight to get and you know he is still getting his contract, it’ll do it to a person’s cred. Not only that, it’s ashame in Madden the teams toughest running back is Jamaal Charles and he will usually fall forward whereas LJ’s stiff arm doesn’t even work anymore, they even nailed it on the head…

  • April 30, 2009  - Rip 'em a new one says:

    Based on their first 100 days or so in office at Arrowhead, a lackluster draft and free agency period that failed to drill down and address key areas of need such as Oline, WR and RB, I’m not at all certain Pioli/Haley know what they’re doing.

    Cutting Will Franklin and trading off Tony G would go down a lot better if we knew competent replacements were signed. So, what did the Chiefs get at TE? A couple of journeymen and Cottam who may be the answer, MAY be the answer and WR? A late round reach along with a hope and a prayer.

    Then, there’s the neo-Nazi news blackout with the omnipotent ones protecting their precious information so they can safely sign Tony Curtis and draft the guys they all reached to draft?

    Unimpressed with this haughty twosome. Pioli says he’s far from through in building this team. Someone needs to remind him the green flag dropped on his tenure several months ago and other teams are lapping him.

  • April 30, 2009  - arrowhead1978 says:

    Yea Rip ‘em, Im not sure if you were one of the ones that wasn’t happy with Herm, but I feel that Herm would have had the same offseason that these two are having and maybe would have had a better draft, being that they wouldn’t have been drafting for the same positions that they had drafted for in last years draft, but they are changing the defense.

    Well Cottam I thought was a decent TE, someone who can play the position, maybe doesn’t have the speed that Tony had but still can block and his hands are soft.

  • April 30, 2009  - Mark says:

    Hysterical that someone could question if Pioli/Haley “know what they’re doing” after the last circus act that was running this team. One can disagree with their moves, but to question their credentials after the tandem of Carl and Herm nearly destroyed this franchise seems a bit strange.
    Pioli signed a OG, and drafted a RT, RB, and WR, as well as signing several FA WR’s and TE’s.
    They cut Will Franklin because he was crying that his protector Herm wasn’t there any more to go easy on him.
    If one enjoyed losing while Herm was destroying a great Offense and great franchise, there’s not much to say. He also destroyed the defense, what he was supposedly brought in nto fix. I prefer winning with proven winners like Pioli and Haley, who are at least TRYING to do things correctly, even if every move doesn’t work out.

  • April 30, 2009  - Mark says:

    They had to draft for the same positions Herm had drafted for because Herm was almost as incompetant a drafter as he was a Head Coach. McBride, Hali, couldn’t play DE, so the new regime had to draft some DE’s that hopefully can.

  • April 30, 2009  - Mark says:

    If LJ is all in, we really don’t need help in the running game. A combo of LJ and Charles should be excellent, with occasional help from Kolby or the 7th rounder.

  • April 30, 2009  - Scott says:

    Guys, Pioli is a General Manager…not a freakin’ magician. He inherited a team that was terrible on Offense, Defense, and Special Teams. Give him some time. I think it’s completely unrealistic to expect him to have every “hole” in the organization addressed by now. This team didn’t go to sh*t in one year…and it won’t be fixed in one year.

    I want this team to be competitive, and “in the hunt” every year…like New England or Indianapolis or Pittsburg. I think Pioli is just the man to get the job done. But it won’t be easy…and it won’t be fast.

  • April 30, 2009  - Blazer383 says:

    If Larry shows that he wants to be a productive member of this team, then I’m all for him staying. He still has some wheels under him.

    As far as the idiots who are complaining about the draft and the moves that Pioli has made so far, all I can say is that the man is very highly respected among his peers, and that’s good enough for me right now. After all, the Pioli Chiefs haven’t even played a game yet. I’ll reserve judgement until he’s had a chance to get all his own people in place, and has a season or two under his belt. I firmly believe that bad coaching has held us back the last couple of years, not a lack of talent—and I don’t think there’s any doubt our coaching staff has been substantially upgraded. I would be highly surprised if we don’t show immediate improvement, though I don’t necessarily expect a Miami-like turnaround this year.

  • April 30, 2009  - Rip 'em a new one says:

    Idiots, huh? OK. Keep sucking down that Kool-Aid those of you who can’t see what’s right under their nose.

  • April 30, 2009  - Blazer383 says:

    Just curious, Rip—how many years have you spent evaluating talent? How many thousands of hours have you spent watching film? How many years have you coached or been involved in any fashion with professional football? If you can provide some insight on the moves made so far that are beyond the typical “armchair quarterback”, I’d be delighted to hear it; otherwise my assertion of your idiocy stands.

    BTW, it seems we signed a new starting (likely) center today….hmm, maybe they aren’t done yet. But then again, if you were paying attention, you’d already know that.

    You aren’t another one of Rin’s aliases, are you?

  • April 30, 2009  - HatfieldMcCoy says:

    Okay, so why does KC want to keep an overpaid, undermotivated,thug that just realized his meal ticket left town with Herm and Carl? Bob–Larry can hire as many co-dependents as he needs. Cut your losses just walk away…

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