Miami Dolphins Sign Larry Johnson: What to Expect from the Former Pro Bowler
The Dolphins' AFC East counterparts have been busy dipping their hands into the fading, big name veteran pool this summer, and on Tuesday, Miami threw their hat into the rink as well.
The team announced the signing of running back Larry Johnson early Tuesday morning. Miami also released running back Kory Sheets.
Johnson, 31, is a decorated veteran who decimated NFL defenses from 2005 through 2006. However, he essentially fell off the face of the planet following that span.
After rushing for a ludicrous 3,539 yards and 37 touchdowns over those two seasons, Johnson became entrenched in a messy contract dispute with the Kansas City Chiefs. They eventually made him the highest paid back in the NFL, but once Johnson got paid, trouble and decline soon followed.
Over the ensuing two seasons, Johnson totaled just 1,433 yards and eight touchdowns. After he publicly slandered the Chiefs organization and was implicated in a nightclub incident, Kansas City cut him. Johnson struggled through brief stints with the Bengals and Redskins before landing with 'Fins today.
At this juncture in his career, Johnson is still something of a pariah, but the negative sentiment towards him has definitely soothed following his hiatus from the national spotlight.
But don't expect him to resurface in that spotlight.
Johnson is going to play third fiddle to Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas.
Thomas is still entirely unproven—though last week's performance was extremely encouraging. Meanwhile, Bush is not an every-down back, and has played a full 16-game slate only once in his five-year career.
Because of these aforementioned factors, the Dolphins were desperate for a stable and reliable backup. Miami may have initially hoped Kory Sheets could help fill that role, but the young scat-back proved futile throughout training camp.
Even though Johnson has been a ghost over the past few years, he had a chance to step away from the game. And, who knows, maybe he will be reborn.
Realistically, however, we should expect Johnson—barring any miracle rebirth of talent—to record roughly 80 touches or so.
He will not be a major contributor for this team, but Brian Daboll will find a way to factor Johnson into his game plan. In fact, based on Daniel Thomas' goal-line struggles last weekend, it's easy to envision Johnson inheriting those duties and racking up a few touchdowns this year.
Larry Johnson may be washed up and he might be an enigma, but this is a rock solid insurance signing for a team that desperately needed it.
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