- The Washington Times - Monday, March 29, 2004

The Washington Redskins are expected to trade fullback Bryan Johnson to the Chicago Bears today, sources familiar with the likely deal said last night.

Johnson, 26, would be swapped for a draft pick, believed to be in the sixth round, during a 24-hour window between the expiration of a no-trade clause in his contract and a roster bonus due tomorrow.

The Redskins and Bears were not allowed to discuss a deal after Washington matched the New Orleans Saints’ four-year, $4.1million offer sheet for Johnson on Friday. NFL rules prohibit clubs from negotiating a trade for a player while his no-trade clause is in effect.

But the clause expired last night, and Johnson’s $800,000 roster bonus isn’t due until tomorrow. Johnson’s contract includes no signing bonus, meaning the Redskins would incur no salary cap problems by executing the trade.

Chicago was one of three teams, besides the Saints, that were interested in Johnson while he was a restricted free agent. The Oakland Raiders and Buffalo Bills were the others.

New Orleans appeared like it might have locked up Johnson with the cap-unfriendly contract, which contains a $2.2million first-year cap charge. But the Redskins deliberated until late Friday before finally deciding to match.

Now it seems the team had a plan to get something in return for Johnson, who as a former undrafted rookie would have triggered no draft pick compensation from New Orleans.

Coach Joe Gibbs signaled Saturday that Johnson’s future might not be set even though Washington had matched his offer sheet, saying, “We’re still going through a process there.”

Minicamp concludes

Gibbs wrapped up his first minicamp with another spirited session. Players now enter the voluntary offseason workout program, beginning today, and won’t practice again until the week following the April24-25 draft.

The team felt like a lot was accomplished in three practices over three days in terms of assimilating a new staff and new players and introducing the offensive schemes of Gibbs and defensive schemes of Gregg Williams.

“We did a lot of work in a short time, real intense, real fast,” cornerback Fred Smoot said. “We had real professional practices these last three days.”

The quantity of information and intense workouts apparently pushed players’ limits, but Gibbs also cut each workout a few minutes short once the day’s script was complete.

The coach exited the sessions feeling like he had gotten a better feel for his players’ mental and physical capabilities, even though a number of players were out or limited because of injuries. And Gibbs said several times that the staff was starting to make some personnel decisions based on what it saw.

“It’s a process that started this weekend, but it continues,” Gibbs said. “You keep working, keep working, keep working.”

Ready to stress out

Later this summer, Gibbs will bring back an old method of testing his players’ physical condition: the treadmill test.

Players will be asked to run on a treadmill while their pulse is monitored. Gibbs recalled how, in his first stint with the club, two players of seemingly equal condition would be revealed as far different in the test.

“They start cranking that treadmill up, and your pulse rate is either going up or it’s not,” Gibbs said. “[Wide receiver] Gary Clark used to finish the treadmill test with his hands in the air, and he was laughing. I don’t think his pulse ever got over 150. And bless his heart, poor Ricky Sanders [another wideout] was about 200 and almost died.

“You can’t con [the treadmill test]. We’ll know who’s ready and who’s making the commitment.”

Extra points

Tempers flared several times during practice, most notably when safety Matt Bowen and newly signed wide receiver Kevin Swayne nearly came to blows. Said Bowen: “It’s not preschool or recess. It’s the NFL. Things happen. Emotions boil over, especially when you’ve been practicing hard for three days. But we’re all teammates.” …

The flap over uniform No.26 doesn’t look like it will be resolved anytime soon. Safety Ifeanyi Ohalete, who has the uniform, has declined interviews on the subject and yesterday cut short a broadcast interview when asked about new running back Clinton Portis in general. Portis, who wore No.26 in Denver, said he has no plans to pick out another number. Right now Portis is wearing No.3, which he must shed by the time he plays in a preseason game.

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