The Bucs could barely afford to keep Keyshawn if they wanted to.
Johnson, who was deactivated for the final six games of the season by coach Jon Gruden, has four seasons remaining on his eight-year, $56-million contract. But his relationship with Gruden became a personal, public feud.
Gruden called Johnson a "distraction" in the locker room and Johnson referred to the Bucs coach as "a used car salesman." A return to Tampa by Johnson likely would not be warmly embraced by fans, especially because Johnson had informed the team he had no intention of playing for the Bucs in 2004.
General manager Bruce Allen told Johnson's agent last week they have discussed trading the three-time Pro Bowl receiver with several teams, but no offers have been forthcoming. And if the Bucs trade or release Johnson, they will absorb almost $7-million of so-called "dead money" on their salary cap in accelerated signing bonus already paid to Johnson. A decision is expected before April 1, when Johnson is due a $1-million roster bonus.
But in order for Johnson to return to the Bucs he likely would have to restructure his contract. Including his roster bonus, Johnson would earn $6-million in 2004, and his cap value is about $8-million.
'CUNA-MANIA IS RUNNING WILD!
"You will be a king here, instead of a peasant at the Cafe."