The New England Patriots gave former Patriot Bethel Johnson another look this week when they invited the free agent wide receiver in for a visit.
In 2006 the Patriots traded Johnson to the New Orleans Saints for former first round pick, defensive tackle Johnathan Sullivan. Both Sullivan and Johnson carried reputations for underperforming relative to their draft experience. Things did not work out for Johnson and the Saints, so New Orleans cut the former 2003 second round pick.
|Bethel Johnson #81 of the New England Patriots evades a tackle Dec 4, 2005 (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)|
Johnson signed on with the Minnesota Vikings in October of 2006. He appeared in 11 games for Minnesota. Johnson caught 9 passes for 156 yards and returned 43 kickoffs for an average of 23.4 yards per return.
Johnson signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles in March of 2007, but they released him by June as he struggled to recover from a fractured foot injury. The Houston Texans picked Johnson up in July but later released him on August 31st.
Coming out of Texas A&M, Johnson was known for his blazing speed. He brought it with him to the NFL and was considered the fastest player on the Patriots roster. Signing Johnson could conceivably add the type of speed the Patriots hoped to secure when they traded up to select wide receiver Chad Jackson out of the University of Florida in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft. The Patriots also have wide receiver Donte Stallworth, who has a reputation for being a speedster.
If the Patriots are indeed interested in Johnson, then there may be concerns over the future of Stallworth who holds a hefty contract bonus scheduled for next season. When the Patriots acquired Stallworth, he received what amounts to a one-year deal with $8 million in options to be paid after the Super Bowl and before the start of free agency. It's highly unlikely the Patriots will pay those bonuses.
Jackson, who has yet to bounce back from a traumatic knee injury suffered in last year's AFC Championship game against the Colts. If the former gator can get back on track, then the team will have little need for Johnson's speed. In his second season, Jackson has appeared in just 2 games and has yet to catch a pass.