IRVING, Texas -- Keyshawn is gone. Could T.O. take his
With timing and a storyline seemingly borrowed from daytime
television, the Dallas Cowboys released leading receiver Keyshawn
Johnson only hours after the division rival Philadelphia Eagles cut
their tempestuous, talented receiver, Terrell Owens.
The Eagles have long been wary about the Cowboys trying to land
Owens, even asking the NFL to punish Dallas owner Jerry Jones for
comments in November that they interpreted as trying to woo him.
Philadelphia backed off its tampering claim a few days later, but
the coming days might prove whether team officials were onto
Johnson was released Tuesday to avoid a $1 million bonus. He was
scheduled to make only $1.5 million this season, but was seeking an
extension and a raise.
"Keyshawn is one of a handful of the top competitors that have
ever played for the Dallas Cowboys," Jones said. "The more he was
a part of our team, the more we appreciated him as a player."
Johnson turns 34 this summer and is coming off a solid season.
He led the team in receptions with 71, and had 839 yards and six
Owens is two years younger and more dynamic, with defenses
fearing him deep and across the middle. He has also been disruptive
to his own teams, leaving bad feelings in San Francisco and wearing
out his welcome even more quickly in Philadelphia, albeit after
helping the Eagles get to the Super Bowl.
Owens in a Dallas uniform would be a stunning turn of events
considering how reviled he was for celebrating touchdowns against
the Cowboys on the team's midfield logo at Texas Stadium. But he's
a marquee player in every sense, and Jones has never shied from
Adding to the intrigue is the presence of coach Bill Parcells.
He had no problem taking in Johnson two years ago when the receiver
was coming off a spat with Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden, but that was
different because they'd been together before.
An Owens-Parcells pairing would be nothing if not interesting,
although the same was thought about Parcells and Jones, and they're
three years into their relationship without any known blowups.
Then again, Owens might not even want to play in Dallas. The
Cowboys are coming off a 9-7 season and seeming to be more than a
big-time receiver away from a championship. He also may not
appreciate the one-liners and nicknames Parcells uses to motivate
Still, Dallas is among four teams Owens is believed to be
He has already met with the Denver Broncos, and Kansas City
president Carl Peterson has said he'd consider giving Johnson a
one-year, incentive-laden deal. Miami is another possibility, one
that may pique Johnson's interest more following the acquisition of
quarterback Daunte Culpepper on Tuesday.
If Owens signs elsewhere, Dallas would still need someone like
him and Johnson: A big, sure-handed receiver who can catch make the
tough catches that keep drives alive. Terry Glenn is the only other
accomplished receiver on the Cowboys' roster and he's more of the
small, speedy type.
Another possible replacement is Buffalo's Eric Moulds, who had
some of his best years playing for Cowboys quarterback Drew Bledsoe
when they were teammates from 2002-04. Moulds' personal adviser
told The Associated Press on Monday that the receiver has asked to
be traded or released. He has two years left on a contract that's
scheduled to pay him more than $7.1 million next season.
Another intriguing option: Johnson, who could still be
Dallas already has missed out on Antwaan Randle El, who signed
with Washington, and Brandon Lloyd, who also joined the Redskins in
a trade from San Francisco. The 49ers have signed Antonio Bryant,
but the Cowboys were unlikely to be interested in someone they gave
up on a few years ago after he threw a sweaty jersey at Parcells.
Dallas also needs a new blocking tight end following Dan
Campbell's signing Tuesday with Detroit.
The Cowboys acquired Johnson from Tampa Bay in a trade for Joey
Galloway after the Bucs deactivated him for the final four games of
the 2003 season, a move the Eagles mimicked when they told Owens he
was no longer wanted seven games into last season.
Johnson's spat with Gruden added to a list of incidents that had
him mockingly branded "Me-shawn." Yet over two years with the
Cowboys, Johnson made only ripples, not waves, and was a solid
producer. His 25 receptions on third downs last season were
eighth-best in the NFL and several of his touchdowns were
game-winners. He never missed a game despite various injuries.
Johnson was the No. 1 overall pick by the New York Jets in 1996.
He spent four seasons there and four more in Tampa Bay. After 10
seasons, he's 20th on the career receptions list with 744. He's
caught a pass in all 151 games of his career, four behind
Indianapolis' Marvin Harrison for the longest active streak.