Unless it's simply a case of being cheap, there appears to be no sound explanation for what the New York Jets are doing.
Whatever the reason, Wednesday's trade of Keyshawn Johnson to Tampa Bay will leave New York a little duller, Tampa Bay more explosive and potentially could throw the first round of Saturday's NFL draft into chaos.
The Jets, concerned that they would not be able to pay the Johnson the money he would want -- two years from now -- traded him to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
''Of course I'm happy,'' Johnson said by telephone from Tampa, Fla. ''I'm more excited than when I was drafted; I'm starting all over again.''
Johnson, one of the most popular performers in New York, had let it be known through his agent, Jerome Stanley, that he was unhappy the Jets' refused to open discussions on a new contract.
''We never even made a proposal,'' Stanley said.
The Jets indicated they were concerned Johnson might be disruptive and hold out in training camp.
''I'm not thinking about why the Jets did what they did,'' Johnson said. ''I'm looking at Tampa, which is trying to get something done in a big way.''
The Buccaneers, giddy at the prospect of scoring touchdowns on a regular basis for the first time in franchise history, tacked six years onto Johnson's contract and handed him a $13-million signing bonus, making him the highest-paid wide receiver in NFL history. His eight-year deal will allow him to earn $56 million.
''It was the right time, the right place, the right player for us,'' said Rich McKay, Tampa Bay's general manager. ''Five years ago we were trying to build a team and picking up draft picks, but we're at a different stage now.
''I don't feel we're just one player away, but what he brings intangibly to a young offense is special. We've been pretty successful as a defensive team, but we were an offense without personality even though we have some good players. But this guy sets the bar for us; we can't accept mediocrity on offense.''
McKay conceded that the Buccaneers would have been unable to do the deal had Tampa Bay not moved into a new stadium last season, providing additional revenue to Owner Malcolm Glazer.
''It's an expensive deal,'' McKay said, ''but that's the price of poker these days. We had a budget, but that was shot to hell with this opportunity. But without the new stadium, ownership could not have been committed to taking money generated and redirect it to something like this.''
For Johnson, the Jets received two first-round draft picks -- the Buccaneers' own at No. 27 and the Chargers' at No. 13, acquired by Tampa Bay two years ago.
The Jets, becoming the first team in NFL history to have four first-round picks, including one from New England for letting them hire Bill Belichick as head coach, are now talking to Cleveland about another blockbuster trade.
Bill Parcells, former coach and future broadcaster, would like the No. 1 pick in Saturday's draft to select Penn State linebacker LaVar Arrington. Arrington is being called the next Lawrence Taylor, a Parcells' favorite while he was coaching the New York Giants.
If the Jets make the deal with Cleveland, in effect, it could be Arrington for Johnson, which does not look like an even swap at this time.
Johnson, while playing with a string of sub-standard quarterbacks, has still become one of the game's most dynamic offensive players. His inside skills, which allow him to go over the middle, should enhance young Shaun King's ability to develop more quickly as Tampa Bay's starting quarterback.
''For us it was a pretty easy trade to make given the magnitude of the player,'' McKay said. ''Even if you get it right in the draft with two picks, your chances of getting an impact player are not high. You will get good players, but you either need an extremely high pick or luck to get someone like this, who is not typically available.''
Johnson, who spends much of his off-season on business and community development in the Los Angeles area, will play against the Jets in Tampa on Sept. 24.
''I'm not a savior,'' Johnson said after arriving in Tampa. ''I can't say I'm a hired gun and come in here like Dennis Rodman did with the Bulls when they were missing a rebounder to win a championship. All I can say is I'm going to do my part.''
So are the Jets, whatever that is.
Vikings sign Bouman
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) -- Third-year quarterback Todd Bouman signed a restricted free agent tender Wednesday that will keep him with the Minnesota Vikings. Terms weren't released.
Bouman, a graduate of St. Cloud State University, spent the 1999 NFL Europe season with the Barcelona Dragons where he led the team to a berth in the World Bowl championship game.
Bouman spent the 1999 NFL season as the Vikings' fourth quarterback.
Also this week, restricted free agent Matthew Hatchette, signed his $1.207 million tender offer from the Vikings, who still might pursue a long-term deal. Hatchette is expected to be the team's No. 3 receiver this season.
And the Vikings added offensive lineman Brad Badger to their roster when the Washington Redskins declined to match their two-year, $2 million offer sheet. Washington instead accepted one of the Vikings' two fifth-round picks, the 155th overall, in this weekend's draft as compensation.
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