- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 7, 2001

Brad Johnson finally is expressing his feelings after almost a year of silent frustration.

In a story published on CNN/SI's Web site yesterday, the outgoing Washington Redskins quarterback criticized the club and owner Dan Snyder for his treatment during the tumultuous 2000 season.

"I enjoyed [1999], but once Snyder got involved, I didn't enjoy it," Johnson said. "And it started long before they signed Jeff George. In February, when they wanted to talk contract extension, they asked for a number. We gave them one, but they never called us back. They wouldn't talk to me, and then they pulled all their stunts in August and September and the whole year really."

Johnson also discussed the club's circus atmosphere.

"For the whole team, [the season] just kind of went downhill," Johnson said. "For me, I went from the [knee] injury that took me out of three games to getting benched by the owner for two games, and then I got to play the last game. I've never been part of something like that. I've never seen anything like it."

Johnson, 32, is prepared to leave the team after leading it to the playoffs and earning a Pro Bowl invitation in 1999. He waited in vain for the Redskins to discuss extending his contract. The club instead signed George to a hefty deal as a backup, and Johnson finally broke off the virtually nonexistent talks in October.

The closest Johnson came to outright criticism of the club or Snyder before yesterday's article was a veiled accusation that Snyder orchestrated his benching.

Now Johnson is awaiting March 2, when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. A variety of teams are expected to bid on his services but not the Redskins. Agent Phil Williams called coach Marty Schottenheimer last week to tell him Johnson would not be meeting to discuss a potential future with the club.

Schottenheimer, in a news conference that afternoon, acknowledged the virtual certainty of Johnson's departure and termed "unlikely" the option of using the franchise tag to retain Johnson.

Johnson declined further comment yesterday through Williams.

"Brad genuinely has some good friends and good memories [from Washington]," Williams said. "But he's disappointed in how things worked out and disappointed that he was not deemed an important enough piece of [the Redskins'] puzzle."

Johnson's most notable suitor is expected to be the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. Johnson worked under Ravens coach Brian Billick in Minnesota, where Billick was offensive coordinator. In last season's final weeks Johnson acknowledged the Ravens are his top choice.

But Johnson is being careful not to jump just because the Ravens won the title and have Billick as their coach. Johnson also has expressed interest in San Diego (where former Redskins coach Norv Turner is offensive coordinator), Tampa Bay and Atlanta. Other teams, such as Seattle and Miami and perhaps even Kansas City, Jacksonville and New England if they cannot rework their current quarterbacks' deals could be interested.

"Brad has a choice this time," Williams said about his client, who was a ninth-round draft pick in 1992 and was traded to Washington in 1999. "It goes both ways because the teams have a choice, too. But we'd like to make a choice that best fits the next four or five years of Brad's life."

With that in mind, Williams said it isn't "worthwhile" to speculate on the signing bonus Johnson will be seeking as a free agent. Johnson might be looking for $10 million or more to sign, but Williams said the overall contract is more important. Johnson does not want a deal with expensive third, fourth and fifth years that the team has no intention of fulfilling.

"The signing bonus is an integral part [of Johnson's prospective deal], but it's not the only part," Williams said.

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