Bucs Give QB Johnson One-Year Contract Extension

June 18 - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers apparently smoothed things over with quarterback Brad Johnson Wednesday when the team signed its Pro Bowl signal-caller to a $25 million contract extension. Johnson, who had three years remaining on his original contract, had his deal extended by one year and is now signed through the 2006 season. By restructuring Johnson's contract, Tampa Bay created some salary cap room which could be used to sign DT Anthony McFarland or DT Warren Sapp to an extension.

Tampa Bay Pro Bowl quarterback Brad Johnson has apparently forgiven the Buccaneers for their botched attempt to restructure his contract last February.

The Bucs signed Johnson to a one-year contract extension Wednesday, which means Johnson is signed now through the 2006 season.

"I'm thankful for Rich McKay bringing me here as a free agent two years ago," Johnson said in a statement released by the Bucs. "We have reached many of the goals that I sought out to accomplish when I came here as a Buccaneer during free agency, but there are more goals here to be achieved. I'm extremely happy about what we accomplished in the first year under Coach (Jon) Gruden. I certainly look forward to the start of training camp in Orlando."

Johnson signed a five-year, $28 million contract with the Bucs during the 2001 offseason and the team attempted to lower his $5.8 million cap value in 2003 by working up a new deal shortly after the Bucs won its first-ever Super Bowl championship.

Tampa Bay sent Johnson's agent, Phillip Williams, a new contract proposal which would have saved the Bucs millions in cap room this year, but the team omitted $1.5 million in guaranteed money in 2004 from Johnson's original contract.

That omission, which Tampa Bay claimed was an oversight, didn't sit well with Williams and his client, and the mistake proved to be big enough to temporarily kill negotiations between both parties.

But with a new deal completed, Phillips said both he and his client were happy with the final outcome.

"We're happy," Williams told Sports Illustrated. "Brad couldn't be happier that the Bucs have made it clear that he's their quarterback for 2003 and beyond. No matter what happened earlier in this process, Tampa Bay stepped up and made it right."

Johnson is now scheduled to earn roughly $25 million over the next four years, and included in the new deal was a $6 million signing bonus. According to ESPN, Johnson will earn base salaries of $2.5 million (2003), $3.25 million (2004), $5.75 million (2005) and $6.75 million (2006).

As for Johnson's 2004 base salary, $1.5 million of it is still guaranteed. Johnson is also still scheduled to receive a $750,000 roster bonus on March 1, 2004.

The Bucs have restructured several player's contracts this offseason in order to create some much-needed salary cap room, and Johnson's new deal gives the Bucs about $1.5 million in relief.

Tampa Bay could use that money to sign one of its starting defensive tackles, Anthony McFarland or Warren Sapp, who are both entering the final year of their contracts.

The Bucs won't likely be able to sign both McFarland and Sapp to extensions, which might leave one of them unhappy when the team reports to training camp in Lake Buena Vista on July 18.

The Bucs have suggested in the past that they intend on having Sapp, 30, play out the final year of his contract, especially since he's scheduled to receive $6.6 million this season. That said, the team could opt to try and give McFarland, 25, an extension before the start of the regular season.

The Bucs could also use the extra cap room to sign one or two more free agents, including free-agent running back Jamal Anderson.

Although the Bucs traded wide receiver Marquise Walker to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for RB Thomas Jones last week, ESPN has reported that the Bucs are interested in acquiring Anderson's services. But the Bucs could wait to offer Anderson a contract until an Arizona court decides whether or not RB Michael Pittman violated his probation on May 31 when he allegedly rammed his Hummer into a Mercedes driven by his wife, Melissa. Pittman was indicted on two felony counts of aggravated assualt last week, but his probation hearing, which was originally scheduled for this week, has been pushed back to July 2.

While he missed three starts due to injury last season, Johnson had an impressive 2002 campaign. The 34-year-old quarterback completed nearly 63 percent of his passes for 3,049 yards and he tossed 22 touchdown passes and just six interceptions. Johnson led the NFC in overall passer rating with a mark of 92.9.

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