The High Five: Ocho Cinco makes the rounds

In this edition of the "High Five," I break down the pros and cons of Cincinnati WR Chad Johnson, deconstruct a comment from former Bucs coach Art Valero and bring you some nice gems from Greg White's odd job days. It's analysis, opinion and inside information on five key issues surrounding the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and it appears every Friday at Bucsblitz.com.

1. Ocho Cinco a Buc? Hmmmm….

It's become a nice piece of gossip on the Bucsblitz.com message board ever since Cincinnati wide receiver Chad Johnson, shall we say, went off on ESPN Radio's "Mike and Mike in the Morning" last week. Johnson told the hosts that he felt mistreated by the team and might seek a trade (I think he may actually be a little tired of T.J. Houshmandzadeh taking his touchdown receptions myself).

Cincinnati wide receiver Chad Johnson probably isn't coming to Tampa Bay, unless the Bucs are willing to give up a lot. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Johnson's act is usually pretty benign. He likes to talk, but for the most part it's jovial trash talk kind of stuff. Certainly never disruptive, unless you consider a bottle of Pepto-Bismol a clubhouse cancer. But the fact that he's given this a public voice may mean something.

If Johnson is seeking a trade, it won't happen soon. These sorts of deals that involve high-profile players usually take place closer to the draft in April.

So how would Johnson as a Buc look. Here's how I look at it:

Pluses? The guy catches just about everything in sight. He has excellent hands, speed and quickness and is probably one of the Top 10 receivers in the game. He's also in his prime.

Minuses? Yes, he's a talker, and every once in a while the "Bad Chad" comes out to play, like now. He's also seen as a player who doesn't give his best effort when he's not the first option.

What would it take to wrest Johnson from the Bengals (and head coach Marvin Lewis said earlier this week that Johnson is not on the market)? Well, don't look at the Randy Moss trade last year as a template for this sort of deal.

At the time, Moss was damaged goods. He had his the two worst seasons of his career in Oakland and was coming off a 42-reception season in 2006. He was seen as a malcontent and a clubhouse cancer and all that stuff that goes with it. At the time of the trade, the fourth-round pick Oakland received seemed about right. Now it seems criminal.

That sets a horrible precedent for fans who are thinking that a third-round pick would wrest Johnson out of Cincy.

Say what you want about his recent comments, but Johnson caught 93 passes for 1,440 yards and 8 touchdowns in 2007. The Bengals simply aren't going to give Johnson away. It should take a Keyshawn-type of deal to get Johnson anywhere, in my opinion. And I don't think the Bucs can afford that.

Johnson would be productive in a Jon Gruden offense, but the price to get Johnson — at least two first-round picks — is just too steep.

2. Valero's parting shot

Former running backs coach Art Valero certainly took some shots at Gruden as he walked out the door last week.

Say what you want about the comments and whether they had a place given Valero's exit, but there was one comment that I found very interesting.

Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden couldn't have been happy with Art Valero's public comments — subtly done or not — of last week. (David J. Phillip/AP photo)
Give this one a read:

"It's nice to work for someone that you trust and you know when he tells you something, he means it," Valero said of his new boss, St. Louis head coach Scott Linehan. "I didn't have to roll my eyes and wonder if it would change by the time he got down the hall."

I'm not in the meeting rooms during the week or the offseason, but I've always had the perception that Gruden's methods can be a bit wishy-washy, and I've seen it mostly in how he uses his players.

Don't you find it strange that he'll say the Bucs need to use a player more after that player has a fine performance, but the next week that same player seems to disappear? The most recent example would be wide receiver Maurice Stovall.

Wide receiver Michael Clayton came out of the Detroit game hurt and Stovall had to do some time as the third receiver. Stovall caught a touchdown pass in that game, and Gruden praised him after the game. He even said that the Bucs needed to use him more. Exact words.

But they never did. Stovall remained an afterthought in the offense the rest of the season.

Michael Bennett's big play in that same game, a 19-yard run that nearly went for a touchdown, was another example. That play gave Bucs fans a taste of what Bennett could do in the offense. Gruden said the Bucs liked what they saw and before the game they said they were installing a package of plays to help Bennett get more involved offensively. They knew he would have a hard time grasping the offense and were attempting to streamline his plays to make him more effective.

At least that's what everyone thought. That never happened either.

Too many times since I've covered this team in mid-2004 I've watched Gruden become enamored with a player one week and forget about him the next. And some of them were good players, players that could have helped his team.

Reading Valero's comment made me think that maybe I'm not that far off the track.

3. Greg White's previous life.

I had the chance to talk to defensive end Greg White on the phone a few days ago and he gave me a couple of nice stories about his days working odd jobs before he finally got his big break this past season.

You may remember from a previous story that White used to work at a syrup factory. Did you know he got fired from that job?

And it's a mystery to him as to why.

"One day I forgot to put my hair net on and I don't think they liked my attitude," White said. "I came in with a smile on my face each day. One of the guys asked me why I was always smiling and I told him, ‘This ain't it for me.' He said, ‘Whatever.' I don't know if there was jealousy there. But I got fired."

He also did some time as a pizza delivery guy in his native New Jersey. One night, he believes, he nearly got robbed.

"I think I was about to get robbed," White said. "I went to the door and knocked, but they said they didn't order a pizza. It seemed a little weird in there. I asked if this was the right address, and they told me that it was but that they didn't order a pizza. As I was coming down the steps I saw a dude coming out of the shadows. But I think he was intimidated by my size."

At 6-foot-3, 270 pounds, I wouldn't be surprised.

4. Money for Earnest

Uber-agent Drew Rosenhaus is the representative for running back Earnest Graham and that would usually be cause for concern.

Tampa Bay RB Earnest Graham will likely get a lot of money this offseason. But he won't be negotiating in public. (Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)
Rosenhaus represented Terrell Owens during his contentious days in Philadelphia and he's currently representing the aforementioned Chad Johnson.

But that doesn't mean that Rosenhaus is going to try and pin the Bucs to the wall.

Rosenhaus, for whatever reason, seems to have little trouble negotiating with the Bucs. I'm not sure if that has to do with GM Bruce Allen's background as an agent, but Rosenhaus and the Bucs seem to get along.

A few years ago when Greg Spires' contract came up, Rosenhaus and the Bucs went right to work on a new contract and got it done very quietly.

Something tells me that Rosenhaus, Graham and Allen will come to a fair deal and do so in the same quiet fashion as Spires' deal. Rosenhaus will save his public negotiations for Johnson.

By the way, I'm thinking Graham's deal is going to average at least $1 million a year, which would be a huge payday for a guy that needed two training camps to make the active roster.

5. Keep up with Dominik

It's hiring season across the NFL but one name I'm not hearing in terms of front office positions is Bucs pro personnel director Mark Dominik.

Dominik has been a long-time Bucs employee and under his watch the Bucs unearthed players like Jovan Haye, Earnest Graham, Greg White and Donald Penn.

Dominik joined the Bucs in 1995 as a pro personnel assistant and worked his way up through the ranks. He and his staff now supervise the recruitment and signing of NFL free agents, monitor NFL transactions and run tryouts. His efforts helped persuade the Bucs to sign Haye and Penn in 2006, two key players in the team's rebound from a 4-12 season in 2007.

Back then both signings registered a shrug from most fans.

I've spoken to Dominik on a few occasions and have found him a savvy customer when it comes to evaluating players. His take on how the Bucs tracked Haye for two years was quite interesting. Plus, he's a great quote, and to become the face of an organization a potential GM must learn to navigate the local media corps. Dominik can certainly do so with ease.

The Bucs don't have a good history of letting coaches or administrators under contract interview for other jobs. It could be that Dominik is just happy in Tampa Bay. He has a wife and a son. Plus, he's survived three different coaches and administrations and the current administration — Allen included ¬— appear to value his opinion and work.

And should Allen ever be fired or forced out, Dominik would be a natural replacement.

And a great choice at that.

Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. An award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers Association, he appears frequently on Scot Brantley Show from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WHBO 1470-AM in Tampa-Clearwater.


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