Former Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson was en route to Cincinnati on Monday and, barring a last-minute breakdown, he expects to sign with the AFC North-leading Bengals, a source familiar with the negotiations told ESPN’s Michael Smith.
A deal, if consummated, is expected to be for the prorated league minimum.
The Bengals, along with several other teams, first expressed interest in Johnson last week as depth behind Cedric Benson, who suffered a hip injury in Sunday’s 18-12 victory at Pittsburgh.
If Johnson learns the offense quickly, it stands to reason he could be active for the Bengals on Sunday against the Raiders.
The Chiefs released Johnson last Monday, the day he was due back from his second (two-week) suspension in the past 12 months. His last brush with controversy came two weeks ago when he posted on his Twitter account a gay slur, insulted followers and questioned the competence of head coach Todd Haley.
Since rushing for a team-record 1,789 yards on an NFL-record 416 carries in 2006, Johnson was never quite the same in Kansas City.
In 2008, then-coach Herm Edwards benched him for three straight games for violating team rules and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended him a fourth game for violating the league’s player conduct policy.
Johnson was later sentenced to two years’ probation after pleading guilty to two counts of disturbing the peace. One woman accused him of throwing a drink on her and another said he had pushed her head at a Kansas City night spot.
After his huge year in ’06, Johnson stayed away from training camp, demanding more money and he got it, a six-year deal worth $45 million, including $19 million guaranteed.
But hampered by a foot injury, he wound up with only 559 yards and three touchdowns. In 2008, he ran for 874 yards as the Chiefs sank to 2-14. Still, Johnson was only 75 yards away from breaking Priest Holmes’ team rushing record when the team let him go.