Third-year wide receiver Chad Johnson, one of the NFL's emerging young stars and now the centerpiece of the Cincinnati Bengals passing attack, on Wednesday evening signed a lucrative contract extension with the club, ESPN.com has learned.
The extension, which is for five years, was confirmed by league sources. The Bengals are expected to announce the deal later this week, perhaps as early as Thursday.
While financial details were not yet immediately available, sources said the extension could be worth about $25 million in so-called "new money," the amount that Johnson will receive beyond what his current contract was worth. The eight-figure signing bonus is worth $10 million to $12.5 million.
A second-round pick in the 2001 draft, the 36th player selected overall that year, Johnson originally signed a four-year, $3.09 million deal that included a $1.436 million signing bonus. His base salary for this season is $426,250, but Johnson clearly has outplayed his rookie contract and the Bengals, who have taken a new approach under first-year coach Marvin Lewis, wanted to secure one of their young "nucleus" players for the future.
Ironically, the confident Johnson made headlines earlier this week by guaranteeing that the Bengals will defeat the unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday in their matchup at Paul Brown Stadium.
Johnson, 25, has exploded into a big-play receiver in just his third season. For his career, the former Oregon State standout has 145 receptions for 2,302 yards and 11 touchdowns. Much of that production has come since the start of the 2002 campaign.
In that period, Johnson has 117 catches, 1,973 yards and 10 touchdowns. Over the same period, his more celebrated cousin, Tampa Bay Bucs star Keyshawn Johnson, has posted 118 receptions, 1,654 yards and eight touchdowns. Most scouts acknowledge the younger Johnson has more big-play potential than does his older cousin, in part because of the Tampa Bay offense.
Johnson has appeared in 37 games and started 25 of them. After injuries earlier in his career, he has emerged as the "go-to" guy for Bengals quarterback Jon Kitna.