The Titans, which need an experienced receiver to help Vince Young, said Thursday they are interested in Keyshawn Johnson. But the veteran has made it clear he has no intention of being a cheap rental.
Johnson has been waiting for the Raiders to make him an offer. After taking a week's vacation, Johnson has been communicating with about six teams who have shown interest in him. The Titans will be the first team he visits.
"Keyshawn has always had a good relationship with Jeff Fisher," said Jerome Staley, Johnson's agent. "He's going to visit them before the end of the weekend." The meeting could happen as early as Friday, ESPN's Michael Smith reports.
"There's mutual interest I'd say right now," Fisher said. "I think we'll probably look into the possibility of pursuing things. Where that goes, I can't tell you."
If the Titans go down that road, Johnson told ESPN.com's Matt Mosley, he's looking for a commitment beyond just the 2007 season and that it would have to make financial sense to him.
"I'm not in rental mode. You're not going to rent me for six months because someone with my career warrants more than that," Johnson said Thursday. "I just laugh when I read that stuff. All those editors should save their ink for another day. I keep seeing people say that I'm going to sit around and wait for a receiver to get hurt in training camp.
"I don't need to do that. I'm not playing for $750,000, $850,000, $1 million or $2.5 million. You can write that down."
The Carolina Panthers released Johnson, who turns 35 in July,
earlier this month after drafting Dwayne Jarrett. He had 70 catches
for 815 yards and four touchdowns last season and became the 16th
player in NFL history with 800 career catches.
His 70 catches for 2006 easily tops the receptions of all the
receivers currently on the Titans' roster who played in the NFL last year.
"I really feel like he could come in and help some of the young guys at receiver and then also come in and help us," Young said.
Johnson's relationship with Fisher goes back to Southern California, when
the coach played for the Trojans and Johnson was a ball boy.
"I know Jeff, but I don't know the organization and I don't
know the makeup of the team and the coaching staff," Johnson told The Associated Press. "I know a little
bit about Norm Chow. I know Norm from college. At the same time, I
want to make sure everything's the right fit.
"I was in a situation last year I thought was the right
situation, and wind up a year later going in another direction. I
want to make sure it's something everybody is committed to for the
next couple of years. They're committed to me, and I'm committed to
them, whoever it is I go play for.''
Center Kevin Mawae, who played with Johnson when both were with
the New York Jets, said he wasn't sure if Johnson's personality -- which earned him the nickname "Me-Shawn" -- would click with the young Titans.
"One thing I do know about Keyshawn, he's absolutely an
incredible athlete and a wonderful receiver. The guy works harder
than most guys in this league," Mawae said. "He plays hard and he
practices hard. That's the kind of guy you need in this locker room."
David Givens is the Titans' only receiver with more than five
seasons in the NFL and the only one with more than 65 career
catches (166). But he had a second surgery on his left knee seven
weeks ago and isn't expected to be ready for the start of the season.
The Titans' receivers include Justin Gage, a four-year veteran
signed as a free agent who has 64 career catches; a trio of players
drafted in 2005 led by Brandon Jones with 27 catches in 2006; and
another trio of draft picks last month -- none taken before the
Compare that to the 6-foot-4 Johnson, who was the No. 1 pick in
the 1996 draft. He spent last season with Carolina after being
released by the Dallas Cowboys to free up enough salary cap space
to sign Terrell Owens.
Johnson said last year he wants to play a couple of more seasons
to reach 1,000 career receptions. But productivity has never been
He clashed with Jets teammates and wrote the book "Just Give Me
the Damn Ball" after his rookie season.
Mawae was a teammate in New York in 1998 and 1999 and still
remembers Johnson's feud with fellow receiver Wayne Chrebet.
"I'd like to think everybody has matured since then. I know
Keyshawn's a great player, and that's ultimately what you need in
this locker room -- a great player and a guy who comes in and works
hard with a great ethic," Mawae said.
Johnson helped Tampa Bay win a Super Bowl in 2002, only to be
deactivated for the final six games the next season after feuding
with coach Jon Gruden.
Information from ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton and The Associated Press was used in this report.