Thursday, June 19, 2003

Bucs give Johnson $25 M extension

NFL notebook

The Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers rewarded Brad Johnson for leading them to their first Super Bowl title with a contract extension that includes a $6 million signing bonus and is worth $25 million over the next four seasons.

The restructured deal provides the 34-year-old Pro Bowl quarterback with assurances that he fits into coach Jon Gruden's plans beyond 2003. It also provides general manager Rich McKay with additional salary-cap room to possibly address the contract situations of defensive tackles Warren Sapp and Anthony McFarland, who can become free agents after next season.

"I'm extremely happy about what we accomplished in the first year under Coach Gruden," Johnson said. "I certainly look forward to the start of training camp."

Johnson, who had three years left on the five-year, $28 million contract he signed as a free agent in March 2001, is coming off the best season of his career. He was the NFC's top-rated passer in 2002, throwing for 3,049 yards and a team-record 22 touchdowns with just six interceptions in 13 regular-season starts.

Johnson's original contract called for a base salary of $5.5 million in 2003. Under the new deal, he will earn $2.5 million this year, $3.25 million in 2004, $5.75 million in 2005 and $6.75 million in 2006.

TITANS: Middle linebacker Randall Godfrey was released, freeing up $2 million under the salary cap.

The Titans had tried to keep Godfrey and reworked his contract in February. But the Titans also want to keep punter Craig Hentrich, backup quarterback Neil O'Donnell and center Gennaro DiNapoli, and didn't have enough money to bring back all four.

Godfrey, who began his career with Dallas, led the Titans in tackles each of his first two seasons with the team but has struggled with injuries the past two seasons.

JAGUARS: The team added receiver Matthew Hatchette, a six-year veteran. He has 45 catches for 684 yards in his career.

BROWNS: Defensive end Mark Word signed a one-year contract extension after leading Cleveland with eight sacks last season. He will stay with the Browns through the 2004 season.

GIANTS: New York signed defensive end Radell Lockhart, who had 25 tackles and six sacks with NFL Europe's Scottish Claymores last season.

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