CINCINNATI (April 20, 2006) -- Chad Johnson got a two-year extension as part of a reworked contract that substantially increases his pay and could keep him with the Cincinnati Bengals through 2011.
The Bengals also got a tentative deal with Anthony Wright to become the backup quarterback while Carson Palmer recovers from reconstructive knee surgery, leading an offense that counts heavily on Johnson.
The three-time Pro Bowl receiver had been under contract through 2009. The new deal could pay him an average of $10.75 million per year in bonuses and salary, far more than his previous contract.
"It's something we've been working on for over a year, and Chad has been very patient and went about this the right way," agent Drew Rosenhaus said. "There was nothing negative, he never missed any time."
There were concerns that Johnson would become unhappy with his previous deal, which paid him far less than some of the game's top receivers. For instance, Terrell Owens -- another Rosenhaus client -- could make up to $25 million on his new three-year deal with Dallas, if he stays out of trouble.
Owens got a $5 million signing bonus and $5 million base salary for 2006. By comparison, Johnson would have made a $2.75 million salary this season under his old deal. The biggest salary Johnson could have made under the old contract was $3.6 million.
Johnson led the AFC with a career-high 97 catches last season. He also set a club record with 1,432 yards, leading the conference in that category for the third straight year. He became one of the league's most noticed players with his touchdown celebrations.
The Bengals have been trying to lock up key parts of their offense. Fullback Jeremi Johnson got a six-year deal that will average about $1.5 million per year.
"This is a key development for our team," coach Marvin Lewis said. "It further secures our future with one of our top players, in the prime of his career, and I want to commend Chad for his efforts in making it happen. It shows his commitment to what we have going here."
Johnson didn't immediately return a phone message. During the season, he said he'd like to spend the rest of his career in Cincinnati, trying to set NFL passing records with Palmer.
Palmer had a breakout season in 2005, leading the NFL touchdowns and completion percentage. He led the Bengals to their first winning record and first playoff appearance in 15 years, but tore ligaments in his left knee during a first-round loss to Pittsburgh.
Palmer needed reconstructive surgery and is expected to miss most of training camp and, most likely, part of the season. With backup Jon Kitna gone to Detroit as a free agent, the Bengals have been trying to sign a backup who could start the season if Palmer isn't ready.
They had an agreement April 20 on a one-year deal with Wright, a free agent from Baltimore who was expected to come to Cincinnati to complete the contract in a day or so, agent Joel Segal said.
Once Palmer can play, Wright is expected to become the backup.
Cincinnati also has Doug Johnson and Craig Krenzel as backups, but neither has Wright's starting experience. The seven-year veteran started seven games for the Ravens last season, filling in while Kyle Boller recovered from a toe injury. Wright threw for a career-high 1,582 yards with six touchdowns and nine interceptions.
In seven seasons with Pittsburgh, Dallas and Baltimore, Wright started 19 games and threw for 20 touchdowns and 25 interceptions. He'll be joining one of the league's top offenses in Cincinnati, throwing to Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.