Cincinnati Pro Bowl WR Chad Johnson wants to be traded. There's really no denying it. He's doing every TV and radio show possible at the media circus that is the Super Bowl, letting it be known that his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, is "The Shark" and working on finding ways to make Johnson more happy.
Sure, Johnson hasn't come right out and said publicly that he wants out, but the spectacle he is making of himself is clearly intended to put pressure on the Bengals to do something with him, as to this point Coach Marvin Lewis has said he will not trade the highly talented but enigmatic wideout.
Don't surprised to the see the Redskins as major players in the sweepstakes to land him should the Bengals shop him around. He has been discussed by owner Daniel Snyder and executive vice president Vinny Cerrato at length and his name came up frequently in conversations with coaching candidates, league sources said, expecting the Redskins to make a concerted push if he hits the market
There are already pictures of Johnson in a Redskins jersey floating around the internets and while at first, a few weeks back with Joe Gibbs still at the helm, I didn't think much of those pictures, after doing more homework I don't think it's a coincidence. While I would never accuse the Redskins - or any NFL team for that matter - of tampering, it's no secret around the league which teams covet which players.
Messages get passed constantly through agents and other players - just letting a player still under contract know that should he desire a change of locale, he would be welcomed and paid handsomely by team X. It's a way of life in the NFL. Trust me, by the end of the combine in late February, every significant free agent in the league already has a good feel for which teams will be hotly pursuing him when free agency opens in March.
And it's more than a hunch. Team X calls agent Y about player Q, who is working on a restructured contract with Team X. And in the course of that conversation it just happens to come up that player Q's teammate, W, who is also represented by this same agent, would be a great fit for Team X, and maybe they can work something out. And player W, through the same agent, lets team X know that he likes the sound of that.
Get the idea? It's very easy to pass on the info through backchannels, and, again, I'd call it a dirty little secret except it's pretty much standard operating procedure around the league and since none of the teams ever raise much of a fuss about it, I doubt that's going to change any time soon.
The Redskins generally set spending records, so every agent in the league licks his chops when that 703 extension shows up on the cell phone. In this case, I think Johnson will go anywhere. He goes on talk radio in Boston and hints about playing for the Pats. He's doing the same in Carolina. It's all a game at this point.
Rosenhaus and the Redskins have a very cozy relationship and he represents an ever-growing percentage of the roster. Rosenhaus knows how to play the game, too, and Johnson is a gifted showman who can talk and pontificate and, in my opinion, entertain on the field and off.
Johnson has also crossed the line from time to time and has alienated many teammates with the Bengals. A change may be necessary, especially with other talented receivers still there and the Bengals trying to change their rep as a home for wayward players and malcontents. This is exactly the kind of acquisition Gibbs would never consider because of "character" issues, but I think the team went overboard in that regard sometimes.
Of course, prior to Gibbs's arrival, Snyder went overboard the other way, chasing Jeff George and Darrell Gardner. We'll see if they find a happy medium but no doubt Snyder, after the sublimely drawn out coaching chase, will want to make a splash and Johnson would do that. Sources who have been in contact with Snyder and Cerrato said finding a stud receiver is priority No. 1 this off season - New England may end up letting Randy Moss leave as well - and have always chased the big name.
The Redskins want a big playmaking target for Jason Campbell, and team sources continue to tell me there is no way free agent bust Brandon Lloyd will ever see his roster bonus this spring (so that No. 85 would be free for Johnson should he want it) and that his days in Washington remain numbered despite the coaching change. League sources said that Snyder and Cerrato think that teaming Johnson with Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El would make the team as talented as any in the league and they'd finally have the explosive offense they have longed for since Snyder took over.
Randoms: If the Redskins opt not to give the defensive line coaching gig to Larry Brooks, the only candidate to interview thus far, Andre Pattterson, former D Line coach with Denver, is a name to keep an eye on. He was out of the league last year and could start ASAP with no worries about blocking a lateral move ... Continue to hear that Earnest Byner had a very strong meeting with Tampa this week. Bucs had already promised an interview to another candidate so Byner is in a holding pattern, but I think that would be a good opportunity for him ...
New offensive coordinator Jim Zorn is still in Seattle but is expected to report to Redskins Park by early next week ... Al Saunders, the former Redskins associate head coach and the new offensive coordinator with St. Louis, is calling other NFL teams trying to help Skins QB Bill Lazor catch on with another club, league sources said. Lazor is highly unlikely to keep that position here and Saunders is unable to bring him to the Rams at this time. Saunders's son, Bob, an offensive assistant with the Skins, is expected to join his father in St. Louis but remains under contract to Washington for now (I anticipate meetings toward working out an arrangement with the Rams to offset that salary, etc. to take place in the coming weeks) ... Doing Washington Post Live on Comcast at 5 today so feel free to bust my chops with an email or two to the show. Larry from Brooklyn always does.
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