For the second consecutive year, the Vikings' starting quarterback reported to training camp despite being unhappy with his contract.
Last year, Daunte Culpepper arrived in Mankato, Minnesota, looking for a raise and eventually got one after staging what amounted to a one-day holdout. This year, it's Brad Johnson who would like to see an increase on the $1.2 million he is set to earn.
Johnson signed his four-year, $6 million contract in March 2005 to serve as Culpepper's backup. But with Culpepper traded to Miami, the veteran would like to see his salary more in line with other starting quarterbacks.
There was speculation that Johnson might hold out in attempt to force the Vikings' hand, but he elected not to go that route.
"That talk really wasn't through me. Pretty much I really don't want to talk about any contract really for the rest of the time. That's kind of where I'm at," Johnson said Sunday after reporting to camp.
"In Brad's heart and mind holding out was never an option," Johnson's agent, Phil Williams, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "He's always been focused on doing everything possible to help do his part in helping this team. ... Brad has simply not wanted to discuss anything related to his contract publicly, nor does he want to. But he felt there shouldn't be any question in the media as to whether he will be there."
Coach Brad Childress had a lengthy discussion with Johnson before the team reported to training camp.
"I just think it's important that you keep a clear line of communication going," Childress said. "I've got that with Brad. ... We had a chance to visit on a lot of different areas. I believe that he is a professional. He signed that contract, he wants to be here and he wants to lead this team."
Johnson, who guided the Vikings on a 7-2 finish last season after Culpepper was injured, would appear to have plenty of leverage in his quest for a raise.
Without the veteran in camp, the Vikings' starting quarterback would be career backup Mike McMahon. Behind McMahon are the inexperienced J.T. O'Sullivan and second-round draft pick Tarvaris Jackson.
Johnson, who will turn 38 on Sept. 13, also is being counted on to help make the Vikings' transition to the West Coast offense as smooth as possible. He had success in a similar offensive system in Tampa Bay, leading the Buccaneers to the Super Bowl title in 2002.
"As everyone knows, Brad signed last year to be Daunte Culpepper's backup," Williams said. "Things have changed drastically, and Brad has said that these things have a way of working themselves out."
Communication Key to Johnson Situation
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