Could Bucs and Parcells work a trade?
By RICK STROUD, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 5, 2003
TAMPA -- Bill Parcells likes to surround himself with his former players.
Parcells officially was introduced as Cowboys coach on Thursday, and already there are reports Jets veteran quarterback Vinny Testaverde is a candidate to join his old coach in Dallas.
Once the postseason is over, Parcells' reach could be longer.
He might attempt to grab Bucs receiver Keyshawn Johnson.
It might seem improbable, but a trade of Johnson could net a No. 1 pick, which the Bucs could use. It also would mean, however, about $7.5-million of dead money on the salary cap. But if coach Jon Gruden really doesn't care for the flamboyant receiver, as has been speculated, he might be tempted to deal Johnson.
Parcells is like a father figure to Johnson, who played from 1997-99 under Parcells with the New York Jets. But Parcells knows any contact with Johnson would be tampering.
There has been no contact between the Bucs and Parcells, except for Tampa Bay's attempt to receive compensation from the Cowboys.
On one level, it's hard to imagine the Bucs ever dealing with Parcells again, especially a trade of someone who could play at a Pro Bowl level a few more seasons.
One other thing. The Cowboys visit Raymond James Stadium next season.
But players get traded not only with the same conference but within divisions. The New England Patriots had no qualms about dealing quarterback Drew Bledsoe to the AFC East rival Buffalo Bills.
They were right in doing so, sweeping Buffalo and Bledsoe this season.
No coach excites Johnson more than Parcells. He barely could contain himself when the Bucs signed Parcells to a coaching contract a year ago (Parcells backed out a few days later, saying he wanted to remain retired).
Johnson has played seven seasons and would like to know where his career will end. Last month, he said he would re-evaluate his future with the Bucs after the season. Already, he has been the subject of reports that he might play in New York again, this time for the Giants.
But Johnson's focus is on the postseason, not Parcells.
"We're all excited as hell about the playoffs and trying to get to the Super Bowl," Johnson said. "That's all I can say."
BETTER THAN ADVERTISED: The Bucs offense finished 24th in the league, which would not seem to be much better than Tony Dungy's offenses, which from 1996-2001 never ranked higher than 20th.
But the numbers don't tell the whole story. The Bucs were much better protecting the football, as evidenced by their plus-13 ranking in turnover margin, third in the league.
The 10 interceptions thrown were the fewest in team history. And quarterback Brad Johnson, who missed all or parts of four games, set the club record with 22 touchdown passes.
Even when the Bucs didn't score, they avoided the three-and-outs that put a defense in poor field position.
Considering the inconsistent offensive line and one of the league's poorest rushing attacks, credit Gruden for improvement on offense that only appears in the win-loss column.
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