- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 19, 2000

Washington Redskins quarterback Brad Johnson thinks little surprise should accompany his decision to end contract talks with the Washington Redskins because negotiations never really got started.

"This is something that's been happening over the last 11 months," Johnson said yesterday. "It's something that has been ignored. It just hasn't worked out for both parties. And I think you can read in the papers the fine print.

"Everything else from there is moot… . I just want to finish the season out and then deal with next year next year."

Even though Johnson's decision increases the likelihood that he will play for another team in 2001, he believes the choice will not affect his relationship with the organization. The Redskins declined comment.

"This has been out in the open with the people who need to know," Johnson said. "There has been no bitterness, no animosity. It's just the way business goes… . I'm glad to be done with it. We'll talk about it another day or two, and then a week from now this won't even be discussed."

Redskins coach Norv Turner also downplayed Johnson's decision.

"I think everyone kind of knew where it stood," Turner said. "Now it's public knowledge, or at least it's been declared, and I don't think it will be an issue for anyone."

Agent Phil Williams informed the media Tuesday night that Johnson was breaking off negotiations that hadn't gotten past preliminary stages. Williams expressed disappointment that the Redskins, while building the largest payroll in league history, never got around to Johnson's expiring contract.

Current backup Jeff George now is likely to start for the Redskins in 2001, while Johnson, who turned 32 last month and reached his first Pro Bowl last season, almost certainly will become an unrestricted free agent.

The Redskins can name Johnson their franchise player, which would limit his mobility by requiring two first-round draft picks as compensation. But to do that, Washington would have to sign Johnson to a one-year deal of more than $6 million a cap figure approximately $2 million more than any current Redskin.

Franchise compensation will be particularly tough to afford for the Redskins, who have committed $69.908 million to the 2001 cap of $67 million to $68 million.

Johnson didn't answer a question about being named the franchise player, but he said at another point, "Ultimately, I'm the one who has the decision on this whole thing."

Johnson's most revealing comment came when he was asked if he felt appreciated.

"I feel like they accepted me with open arms," he replied. "It's a great opportunity. It's an organization that hasn't been to the playoffs in six or seven years. I felt like I had a big part in getting us to where we were last year, a big part of what's happening this year. And this year ain't over.

"I'm excited about where we are, and we'll move on from there. I love playing with the guys on the team, the coaches. I have a lot of respect [for them]. We'll kind of leave it there."

He stressed that his decision was made public to end media questions, saying, "This wasn't a statement we made. This is something that has been asked enough. It's time to finally [deal] with it."

In 1999, Johnson led the Redskins to their first playoff appearance in seven years after being obtained from the Minnesota Vikings in a trade for three draft picks.

The Redskins showed no interest in extending Johnson's contract and did not submit a counterproposal to an offer Williams made in February. Williams had one casual meeting with player personnel director Vinny Cerrato in September and a few brief phone conversations with Mark Levin, the team's recently hired chief negotiator/capologist.

Johnson endured a quarterback controversy when the Redskins fell to 1-2, and many fans and media blamed the start on his inability to complete deep passes. Johnson since has improved his quarterback rating to 81.2, sixth-best in the NFC. His personal relationship with George seems to have strengthened.

During the offseason, the Redskins signed free agents Bruce Smith, Deion Sanders, Mark Carrier and George, then worked on contracts for draft picks LaVar Arrington and Chris Samuels. Running back Stephen Davis, designated the franchise player, got a one-year contract to end a training camp holdout, then a nine-year, $90 million pact just before the season started.

Did Johnson feel slighted?

"I'm going to leave it right here," Johnson said. "I think we've answered enough. Again, there's no bitterness. It's just kind of the way it is. It's on both parties. I think everything's in black and white today, and we can just kind of move on."

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