Two Very Different Approaches To Honoring Your ContractS

Houston's Andre Johnson wants to re-negotiate his seven-year contract that has five years remaining on it. Oguchi Onyewu wants to play for AC Milan so badly, he'll do it for free. Who is the dummy and who is the hero?

Johnson passed on the Texans' voluntary mini-camp this week, because he's not happy that Larry Fitzgerald and Brandon Marshall make more money than he does. There are several reasons for that, like the fact that he signed his $60-million, 7-year deal (more total money than the four-year contracts of Marshall and Fitzgerald) over three years ago; the fact that inflation causes the cost of goods and service to rise over time; and the fact that Johnson negotiated his contract himself, with the help of his lawyer uncle instead of a professional sports agent. Oops.

Meanwhile, Onyewu (or "Gooch" to you) told Milan to go ahead and tack one more year on to the end his contract, gratis, because he felt bad that a knee injury kept him from a playing a single game in Serie A this season. That is just crazy talk, right? What kind of athlete does ownership a favor?

Johnson may seem petulant, but that just depends on who you ask. He's due $7.3 million in 2014; an amount that would arguably make him underpaid in 2010. And that's not guaranteed. Once he's outlived his usefulness, Houston will dump him without a second thought. So why shouldn't he do everything he can to maximize his own wealth now?

On the other hand, who told you to fire your agents? A good one is worth way more than his 3% fee. And what's the point of even having NFL contracts if either side can demand to change the terms anytime they feel like it?

It also makes you wonder what Onyewu really gave up by throwing Milan a bone. The "free" year on his deal is 2012-13 and a lot can happen before then. If he wows the club over the next two years, they'll probably tear up his contract and give him a new one anyway (or at least get a nice transfer fee for him while shipping him elsewhere). And if he becomes a bust, they cut him loose and it cost him nothing but good will. That good will also goes a long way with teams (and fans) who watched you sit on the sidelines for a whole gregoden year. Fan favorites get better contracts than (ahem) holdouts. It's a symbolic gesture, but one with a big potential reward if his career takes off.

In the end, Johnson and Gooch are both negotiating for all that their future selves are worth. One is just a little more PR savvy than the other.

'Exemplary' Onyewu asks to play one year for free at AC Milan [Yahoo]
Texans' Johnson unhappy with contract, skips workouts [Houston Chronicle]
[Images: AP]