Larry Johnson: Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?

Mitch BennettContributor IApril 20, 2009

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 21:  Larry Johnson #27 and Tyler Thigpen #4 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates during the game against the Miami Dolphins on December 21, 2008 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The Zach Thomas signing adds to a list of subtle moves made by the Chiefs this offseason.

We have quietly collected veterans on offense, defense, and special teams. Mike Vrabel, Bobby Engram, and Zach Thomas are the well known ones. Monty Beisel, Terrance Copper, Corey Mays, C.J. Jones, Rodney Wright, and the resigning of Jon McGraw are overlooked as roster fillers.

However, these may be the some of the smartest moves.

Last year, we saw what a group of rookies and second year players could really do. We saw little (if any) leadership on the defense and a disgruntled running back who was allowed to dictate our offense for a couple weeks.

This year we're going to see if two very smart men will be able to resurrect a program. The writing is on the wall for this regime. We win and we win smart. Two rules seem to have been applied:

1. Shut up and play hard.

2. Talk loud and sit down.

Brian Waters, Tony Gonzalez, and Larry Johnson haven't said much besides quietly dispelling rumors of trades they demanded a couple of months ago.

Larry, in particular, has told the team he doesn't want to be traded and would like to stay with the Chiefs. So far, all Larry has done is go to all the voluntary practices and keep his mouth buttoned.

Will this be enough to keep him in town?

Will he have a breakout season?

My opinion: Yes.

Larry is in a similar situation as he was at the beginning of his career. Larry is uncertain of his future, disliked by most and is playing under a hard nosed coach that wants to win now.

Dick Vermeil effectively silenced Larry's complaints by telling him to "take the diapers off" and Larry turned that into 1750 yards and 21 TD in 10 games.

We can look forward to that same kind of production if he stays healthy and stays out of the nightclubs.

Under Herm's "talk-a-lot-lose-a-lot" regime, we saw what happens to Larry when no one is willing to be a mentor and instructor over LJ.

However, all this amounts to nothing if we trade him, to a team like Arizona for Boldin (package LJ with our first and third and ask for a second and Boldin in return). As we all know, speculation is cheap and as of right now, Larry is a Chief.

Some of us may believe that Larry is Kansas City's version of T.O./Pacman. With a little luck, Larry could resurrect the Chief's rushing attack and make Matt Cassel's world that much easier.

Without Larry, we have a "results may vary" prospect in Jamal Charles and a banged up Kolby Smith. Charles could play well next year, but time will have to tell. Smith shows flashes of talent, but he doesn't seem to have the stamina to be an every down back.