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Wideout Must Lower Price Keyshawn's Future


Keyshawn Johnson, exiled to the inactive list last week by Bucs
coach Jon Gruden for disruptive behavior, knows his immediate
future will be rocky. "A lot of people will dump on me," he says.
"They'll call me Me-shawn. They'll say it all has to be about me.
But I know there are enough teams out there who'll want my
services, and I'll be able to go somewhere where I'm wanted as a
person and a player, rather than playing for a guy who hid the
ball from me." For that to happen, Johnson will have to lower his
price, because no one will pay him the $6 million he was due to
earn in Tampa in 2004. The Bucs will attempt to trade him before
April 1, when a $1 million roster bonus comes due; if they can't
deal him, he'll probably be released. Assuming Johnson drops his
price, here are three places he might land:

1. PATRIOTS. Troy Brown has been beaten up this season, and he
turns 33 next July. Johnson is tailor-made for this offense--a
tall, physical receiver who doesn't get hurt and who could catch
90 balls running a lot of routes over the middle. Plus, he and
coach Bill Belichick like each other, and one of Johnson's
closest buddies in the league is Belichick's administrative aide,
Berj Najarian, a publicist for the Jets when Keyshawn played in
New York.

2. JETS. Johnson would love to return for an encore in the Big
Apple. Running back Curtis Martin is already campaigning for
Johnson, and general manager Terry Bradway will likely be
interested. Johnson would be a great fit opposite Santana Moss,
but the Jets aren't in good salary-cap shape.

3. COWBOYS. Everything about Johnson's reuniting with Bill
Parcells screams no, but Johnson said last week, "I have a soft
spot in my heart for the fat guy, obviously." The Cowboys could
use a more physical receiver than the three they have, but
Parcells is likely to spend money first on more pressing
needs--on the offensive line and perhaps at running back. --Peter

COLOR PHOTO: STEVE JACOBSON Johnson will have to change his stance as he shops for a new teamin 2004.