Jets offer K. Johnson to Ravens

Pro Bowl receiver on table for 5th pick in draft, sources say

Modell admits contact

Star's contract wishes may be spurring N.Y.

March 07, 2000|By Ken Murray and Mike Preston | Ken Murray and Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

The New York Jets have offered Pro Bowl wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson to the Ravens in return for the fifth pick in the NFL draft next month, two sources said last night.

The Jets, who initiated the trade talks, are one of several teams that have approached the Ravens about the fifth pick.

Ravens officials would not confirm that the discussions involve Johnson, who was the first pick in the 1996 draft out of Southern California. But they do acknowledge they are shopping the first of their two first-round choices, and that it has drawn considerable interest.

"We have talked to a number of teams about trading the No. 5 pick," said team owner Art Modell, "and one of those teams is the New York Jets."

Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' vice president for player personnel, said he held several conversations with interested parties at the league's scouting combine last month in Indianapolis.

"We have said we would strongly consider moving the fifth pick," Newsome said. "At this point, it's something we'll look at, especially based on what San Francisco got from Washington."

It was at the scouting combine that the Washington Redskins gave up two first-round picks (the 12th and 24th overall choices), along with fourth- and fifth-round picks, to obtain the No. 3 choice.

The Jets and Ravens both hold two first-round picks in the April 15-16 draft. New York's picks are the 16th and 18th, and Baltimore's are the fifth and 15th.

Based on market value and history of the fifth pick in the draft, the Ravens would attempt to get not only Johnson, but a lower-round pick -- perhaps in the fourth or fifth round -- as well, according to one source.

Why Johnson is available is unclear, although it likely has to do with his contract. In the fifth year of a six-year, $15 million deal he signed in 1996, Johnson has given indications he wants a new contract, one more in line with his status as one of the league's elite players and one of its most dangerous deep threats.

Johnson, 27, received a $6.5 million signing bonus as a rookie, and his $1.74 million base salary in 2000 ranks only 20th among the league's wide receivers.

That pales in comparison to the contract wide receiver Joey Galloway received from the Dallas Cowboys on Feb. 12.

The Cowboys signed Galloway to a seven-year, $42 million deal with a whopping $12.6 million signing bonus. They also surrendered two mandated first-round draft picks, one in this year's draft and the other next year, for the wide receiver, who carried a franchise tag as an unrestricted free agent.

Johnson is coming off consecutive Pro Bowl seasons. In 1998, when the Jets went to the AFC championship game, he had 83 receptions for 1,131 yards and 10 touchdowns. Last season, when the Jets were forced to use four different quarterbacks, he increased his catches (89) and yards (1,170), but had two fewer touchdown receptions.

Jerome Stanley, Johnson's Los Angeles-based agent, said he had no reaction to the proposed deal, but insisted there were "no hostilities" with the Jets. He declined to comment when asked if he felt the Jets were attempting to send Johnson a message about future negotiations.

In four seasons with the Jets, Johnson has 305 receptions for 4,108 yards -- 13.5 yards per catch -- with 31 touchdowns.

Johnson's acquisition would provide the exclamation point on a retooled Ravens offense that added Pro Bowl tight end Shannon Sharpe in February.

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