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Larry Johnson Joins Portis In Redskins Backfield
The Washington Redskins made their biggest free-agent splash Friday night, reaching agreement on a three-year deal with running back Larry Johnson.

The contract could be worth up to $12 million depending upon how Johnson plays, a source told's John Clayton.

Johnson arrived in town Thursday. The team has been seeking a veteran tailback who could complement Clinton Portis.

"Obviously I've watched him from afar for years," incoming head coach Mike Shanahan said of Johnson, who competed in the same division as Shanahan's former team, the Denver Broncos, before the signing was announced. "I coached Larry in the Pro Bowl. I like Larry. I'm a big fan of his."

Johnson, 30, has encountered problems off the field, but on it, he has managed to post two 1,750-yard rushing seasons. His agent told the Washington Post that Johnson was "extremely excited" about the possibility of playing in Washington.

"He grew up a Redskins fan. He was born in the D.C. area, and he's a lifelong fan," said agent Peter Schaffer. "To some extent, this could be a dream come true for him."

Earlier this week, Johnson said he envisioned himself and Portis being for the Redskins what he and Priest Holmes once were for the Kansas City Chiefs.

But the duo clearly isn't a long-term answer for Washington. As's Matt Mosley suggested, this is more of a stopgap move. Mosley added he still expects the Redskins to draft a running back next month.

The bottom line?

Per Mosley, the Redskins now have "two aging backs who've taken way too much punishment over the years. ..."

Johnson was cut by the Chiefs in the midst of a horrible season in 2009, but he was picked up by the Bengals and played respectably in Cincinnati, carrying 46 times for 204 yards, a 4.4 yards per carry average. ...

Portis, meanwhile, visited a concussion specialist in Pittsburgh last week and was cleared to begin offseason activities with the team.

In fact, asked whether Portis would be present this coming Monday when players report to Redskins Park for the offseason conditioning program -- which is technically optional, though highly encouraged, the new coach seemed quite sure of his answer.

"Oh, I guarantee you Clinton will be there," Shanahan said. "I know Clinton too well. He'll be there and kick off the offseason on the right note. I want my leaders to be there, and hopefully we'll have 100 percent participation and if not, I'll be disappointed."

Given Shanahan's propensity for running the ball, conditioning will be important.

As's Michael David Smith notes, Denver had 11 individual 1,000-yard rushing seasons while Shanahan was head coach and the Broncos were the only team ever to have four different 1,000-yard rushers in four straight years.

But Johnson hasn't had a 1,000-yard season since 2006, and in Shanahan's final two seasons in Denver, no Broncos running backs came close to 1,000 yards.

Portis' last four seasons have been a mixed back. He posted 1,262 and 1,487-yard rushing efforts in 2007 and 2008 respectively. But those two big seasons were sandwiched between injury-shortened campaigns of 2006 (523 yards rushing in eight games) and 2009 (494 yards in eight games).

So. ... If you ask me, Mosley pretty much nailed this one and I suspect Shanahan might be even more disappointed this fall relying on a pair of aging, oft-injured former superstars to power his rushing attack than he will be if one of them fails to show up for the off-season program.