A report that surfaced this week in the New York Post suggested Johnson, a former New York Jet, was interested in being traded back to his former team. But Johnson won't be leaving Tampa Bay. In fact, Pewter Report has learned Johnson will become the latest Bucs player to restructure his contract.
The Bucs will likely finish restructuring Johnson's deal by the end of the week. Johnson was scheduled to have a $6.8-million cap value in 2003, but the team is expected to turn part of his $5 million salary and bonuses in 2003 into a signing bonus, which will give the Pewter Pirates some much-needed cap relief.
By giving Johnson another signing bonus, the Bucs are effectively committing to the 6-foot-4 wide receiver for at least another two years. The Buccaneers won't be able to release or trade Johnson without taking a massive hit to their salary cap.
Tampa Bay will likely use up the cap room quickly. The team is interested in re-signing left tackle Roman Oben and it will also try to re-sign quarterback Shaun King and/or sign QB Jim Miller. The Bucs had expressed some interest in Buffalo free-agent tight end Jay Riemersma, but he signed a three-year contract with Pittsburgh on Wednesday evening.
Johnson is believed to be the eighth Bucs player to restructure his contract this offseason. Fullback Mike Alstott, cornerback Ronde Barber, linebacker Derrick Brooks, tight end Ken Dilger, kicker Martin Gramatica, wide receiver Joe Jurevicius and defensive end Simeon Rice all reworked their deals earlier in the offseason.
Johnson's new signing bonus and the team's commitment to their star receiver for at least the near future effectively shoots down the trade rumors that surfaced in the New York Post. Those rumors likely started because Johnson drew the ire of Bucs head coach Jon Gruden last year when the Pro Bowl receiver was one of the few players not in attendance for the team's voluntary offseason workouts.
But Johnson, who spends most of the offseason in California, characterized his participation in the team's upcoming voluntary offseason program to be "in-and-out."
It is expected that Johnson will continue his trend of working out in Tampa and California during the offseason.
"They'll see me but I will continue my same offseason workout schedule," Johnson told PewterReport.com.
Johnson will be in attendance for all of the Bucs' mini-camps, the first of which will take place the weekend after the NFL Draft.