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The Tank Johnson Files

After thinking about the Tank Johnson signing, here’s where I am on the whole thing. The Cowboys probably did the smart thing here. Jay Ratliff is a player I love, but he’s a little under-sized for the position and he has no proven backup so that means he will be playing a lot of downs. By mid-season, he could start wearing down and we would have no real help. So getting Tank Johnson on board to add to the rotation over the last half of the season will be a welcome addition. Johnson is definitely the most talented player at the position the Cowboys could add right now, and they added him for peanuts.

Of course, that first paragraph ignores the elephant in the room. Tank Johnson has made some very bad choices in his life and is one more bad decision from facing a huge suspension from Roger Goodell. Johnson’s history with violence and guns makes me nervous, some habits and some people from his past will probably be hard for him to get rid of, but he has to do it. His police blotter is pretty long and he has been convicted of charges and served prison time. In other words, these aren’t just accusations.

I’m willing to give Tank Johnson a shot at redemption. One shot, any silliness and he has to go. Jerry Jones is making Calvin Hill available and is doing what he can to keep Tank on the straight and narrow. But really, it’s up to Tank. If he wants to play football again for any period of time, he has to clean up his own act.

So just how much did the Cowboys pay Tank?

The Cowboys will pay Johnson a prorated base salary of $510,000 this year, depending on how many games he plays, and he will earn a $605,000 base salary in 2008 with the chance to earn more money through incentives. (ed. note - the prorated salary is expected to be $225,000 this year)

Wow, that’s the absolute minimum with no guaranteed money. That means they can get rid of him easily and quickly if he strays off the path. It also means that if he can play up to his talents then the Cowboys got a steal and could help them out for next year, too. Smart contract from Jerry.

When can he play?

Now that Johnson is signed, his suspension reverts to the Cowboys, whose bye week falls on the NFL's eighth week of the regular season. That means Johnson will not be eligible to play his first game until Nov. 11, when the Cowboys play at the New York Giants, according to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello. Johnson will not be able to practice or even work out at the team's facility until Nov. 5, the day after the Cowboys play at Philadelphia in their eighth game of the season.

However, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has the option to reduce Johnson's suspension to six games. There is also a chance the league could count the eighth week of the season, the Cowboys' bye week, as the final week for Johnson's suspension, meaning he could also return for the Nov. 4 game at Philadelphia.

Kevin Sherrington sounds skeptical about the whole thing.

Calvin Watkins discusses on-the-field issues. Like how will Tank fit in a 3-4.

Finally, here’s what Tank’s agent said.

"For a lot of reasons, he really just felt the Cowboys were the right fit," said Johnson's agent, Jerrold Colton. "He's so thankful to them for giving him this opportunity. He is very determined to prove they made a wise decision in believing in him."

Please Tank, prove it was a wise decision and don’t embarrass the Cowboys organization. If he does, then we only have ourselves to blame, but that’s the risk you sometimes take.

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