The League

Dave Goldberg
Sports Reporter

Dave Goldberg

Covered the NFL for the AP for 25 years and now is a senior NFL writer for Fanhouse.com

A blip on offseason radar

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Since 1984, I've earned my living writing about the NFL, a job that usually slows markedly after the draft in late April until mid-July, when training camps start opening.

So in May, I watch the NBA and NHL playoffs plus (sigh) the Mets, my favorite baseball team. Do I care about two guys named Johnson who play for football teams in Houston and Tennessee and don't bother to show up for workouts because they want contract extensions/enhancements?

Not very much. Because I've learned that however much angst the no-shows for "voluntary'' workouts cause for coaches, there's about a 99.9 percent chance that Andre and Chris Johnson will show up by training camp. And that barring injury, both will be ready on opening day. If they're not, I'll worry about it then and let the $$,$$$,$$$ signs fall where they may.

Frankly, I don't think I'm unique.

Most sports fans, even the most ardent football fanatics, look at May as the offseason, especially when it comes to players on teams they care little about missing workouts that are NOT mandatory. How important are "OTAs?" Plaxico Burress used to drive Tom Coughlin crazy by working out in Miami in workouts paid for by his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, yet he still managed to catch the winning TD pass for the Giants in the 2008 Super Bowl.

On to the Johnsons.

Andre is arguably the best receiver in football but we don't know it because unlike other stars at his position, he goes about his business quietly, at least until now. In the last three seasons he's been healthy -- he missed seven games to injury in 2007 -- he's caught 319 passes for 4,291 yards and 22 touchdowns. After the 2007 season, he signed a new deal paying him $60 million over eight years but with "only'' $15 million guaranteed, about half of what Larry Fitzgerald, the other "best receiver in football'' got from Arizona in his four-year $40 million extension.

Chris? He rushed for 2,006 yards last season, just the sixth player in the NFL to go over 2,000 yards. But that was only his second NFL season so he's relatively helpless because he's locked into his rookie contract. So although he made over $4 million in 2009, he wants a new deal, not an unreasonable request since the shelf life of running backs is short -- who knows what Johnson's health will be when he becomes a free agent after his fifth season.

Here is what I think:

1. Though 99 percent of the population will never make anything close to what the Johnsons are getting now, both deserve new deals. They are stars at skill positions and sell tickets. Yes, they are well paid. The owners are better paid.

2. Because there is currently what is euphemistically called a labor "deadlock'' that has resulted in a season without a salary cap, teams are barred from giving raises higher than 30 percent, making it harder to arrange big raises.

3. Despite that, these standoffs will be settled (by creative accounting if necessary) before the 2010 season begins and both will be on the field for games that count, even if they miss voluntary workouts.

4. Item #3 is what almost all fans really care about.

Now back to the NBA and NHL.

And for me, agonizingly, the Mets.

By Dave Goldberg  |  May 19, 2010; 12:00 AM ET  | Category:  Dave Goldberg , Houston Texans , NFL , Tennessee Titans Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Pony up and pay the man | Next: Pay day for 'Dre

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