Johnson faces another charge

Defensive end Joe Johnson, likely on his way out as a Green Bay Packer, has been charged with contempt of court after failing to appear at a hearing Monday in Tift County, Ga., to face marijuana possession charges.<p>

Johnson arrived a couple of hours late for the hearing. He told the court that his father died last week and that he attended the memorial services in Cleveland on Saturday and would attend the burial Tuesday in St. Louis. Johnson neglected to notify his attorney of the circumstances until Monday.

"Apparently this is not very important to Mr. Johnson," judge Larry Mims said Monday morning. "We can't allow him to just come when he feels like it."

After Johnson was arrested on a bench warrant Monday afternoon, he had a hearing with Judge Mims and agreed to pay double his original bond of $1,625, plus a $125 bench warrant fee, a total of $3,375 to keep from being held in jail.

Another hearing date will be scheduled.

Johnson was arrested on May 22, 2003 after Tift County sheriff's deputies found a misdemeanor amount of marijuana in his car after stopping to see why his car was sitting in the turn lane with its hazard lights flashing.

The Packers are expected to cut Johnson, who turns 32 on July 11, this off-season. If he is released before June 1, his entire $4.3 million in remaining signing bonus would come due and the team would only gain about $750,000 in cap room. If the Packers wait until after June 1, then about $1 million of his bonuses would count against the cap this year and the rest would be put off until 2005. In that scenario, the team would pick up about $4 million in cap space in 2004, but $3.25 million would count against their 2005 cap.

The Packers may be better off re-signing Johnson at the veteran's minimum salary of $760,000.

Johnson has missed 21 of 32 regular season games since the Packers lured him from New Orleans in 2002 with a $6.5 million signing bonus as part of a $33 million contract. He suffered a torn triceps in his first season in Green Bay, then was sidelined last year with a tear in his right quadriceps tendon during the first quarter of Green Bay's overtime loss to Kansas City on Oct. 12.

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