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Jags sign Johnson
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Old 12 Nov 2003, 06:45 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Jags sign Johnson

In a move that immediately upgrades the offense, providing a solid No. 2 wide receiver to pair with Jimmy Smith, the Jacksonville Jaguars on Wednesday afternoon were awarded Kevin Johnson on waivers, a day after his release by Cleveland.

ESPN.com confirmed that 16 franchises, an unusually large number, made waivers claims on Johnson. According to waiver rules, he was awarded to the Jags because they had the poorest current record of any teams making a claim. Among the other teams claiming him were the receiver-needy Detroit Lions, Atlanta Falcons and New York Jets. The Jets on Wednesday placed Wayne Chrebet on injured reserve, ending his season, and exacerbating their need for a wide receiver.


Sources said that Johnson intermediaries spoke with Detroit officials on Wednesday and urged them not to claim the wide receiver. Johnson personally told some teams that he did not want to go any further west than Cleveland.


There were erroneous broadcast reports from Cleveland that Johnson was headed to Detroit, but those came early in the day, hours before the 4 p.m. deadline for making a waiver claim.


To make room for Johnson on the roster, the Jaguars released veteran wide receiver J.J. Stokes, who joined the team this summer as an unrestricted free agent.


Acquiring the sure-handed Johnson, at least for the balance of this season, gives rookie quarterback Byron Leftwich another reliable target. Jacksonville has struggled at the wide receiver spot in general in 2003 and none of the club's players at the position has more than 26 catches.


Notably, Johnson, 27, is represented by IMG, whose large clientele also includes Leftwich and Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio.


Johnson was demoted from the Browns' starting lineup last week because coaches felt he had not blocked well in the running game. Johnson reacted by noting publicly that he was the Browns' leading receiver in every season with the team. The demotion did not play well in the locker room, where veterans have questioned some of coach Butch Davis' past moves, and the release sent shock waves through the roster.


In a Wednesday morning telephone interview with ESPN.com, Davis confirmed that his staff had problems with Johnson's willingness and effectiveness as a blocker. But he also said that, as the highest paid and most senior wide receiver on the roster, Johnson did not step up to his leadership responsibilities.


"Kevin is a good kid," Davis said. "But he wasn't able to consistently do well the things we asked of him. Remember, when he came here in 1999, it was an expansion team. The expectations of winning and losing aren't the same as they are now. And he was one of the more (high profile) players. But as we continued to bring more talent in here, and his role changed some, he didn't adapt very well.


"For 2 years, we gave him every chance, believe me. And last week, when we demoted him, we hoped that would be the spark, but it wasn't. He's a talented guy, and he'll play in the league, but (releasing him) wasn't that tough a decision for us."


In claiming Johnson, the Jaguars now assume his existing contract. But because he is a "vested" veteran, he has the right to declare himself an unrestricted free agent after the 2004 season.


His base salary for 2003 is $950,000, which means the Jags owe him a prorated portion based on remaining games, or about $391,000. Johnson was under contract through 2006, with scheduled base salaries of $1.45 million (2004), $1.4 million (2005) and $2.65 million (2006). There were annual workout bonuses of $100,000 and Johnson is also due a $2 million options bonus in 2005.


Never noted for his speed, Johnson nonetheless led the Browns in receptions in each of his first four seasons in Cleveland, and topped the team in catches again this year. Many scouts feel he has the best hands of any wide receiver in the NFL and that, while he lacks the playmaker skills of a "lead" wideout, he is a prototype No. 2 wide receiver.


A second-round pick in the 1999 draft, and one of the few players remaining from the franchise's first year of its second incarnation, Johnson played in 73 games and started in all but one of them. He had 315 catches for 3,836 yards and 23 touchdowns.


His 9.5 yards per catch this year is well below his career standard of 12.6 yards, altho there have been mitigating circumstances with the Browns unable to settle on a quarterback and with injuries to the offensive line that have affected the passing game.

espn
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Well this was a nice pick up by the Jags. But I still don't understand why the Browns would release him.
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Old 13 Nov 2003, 11:53 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I think there is something more to it.
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Old 13 Nov 2003, 12:31 PM   #3 (permalink)
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All I know is, JJ Stokes got fired again lmao.
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