Chad Johnson in Maroon and Black, er, Burgundy and Gold?
Not so fast.
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis was fairly adamant in insisting that his team's mercurial receiver would not be traded:
"There will be no trade of Chad Johnson. . .No. 1, the guy has a contract through 2011, OK. No one within the Bengals organization has ever spoken of or ever uttered anything about trading Chad Johnson, nor will he be traded. There is no such thing as behind-the-door dealings in the NFL. That does not occur because the team in question (the Bengals) is not willing to trade their player nor have they thought about trading their player or discussed trading their player, or will they discuss trading their player. So I think that's pretty clear. Things can move on."
There doesn't seem to be much wiggle room there. This wasn't a "Chad Johnson is a Bengal for now and we don't plan on trading him at this time" type of statement. It covers the past, present, and future. Clearly, Lewis has painted himself into a corner here with his series of declarative sentences. If at any point he relents and deals Johnson, he will have lost a significant amount of credibility. If, in the future, another Bengal wants out of Cincinnati he will know that the first no-trade statement is just a bargaining ploy.
Between the lines, Lewis was saying that the Bengals would have to get an offer that knocked their socks off to trade Johnson. He'd have to get a deal so good that he's look worse for turning it down than he would for backtracking on such a definitive statement. That's the only way he could unload him and still have credibity. He could just say that they had no intention of dealing #85 but that the offer was one that they couldn't refuse.
Which leads us to the Redskins, the kings of overpaying. If anyone is likely to make an offer another team can't refuse, it's the one that gave up a third-rounder for a player who was about to be cut in Mark Brunell. It's the team that gave $10 million guaranteed and a third and fourth for Brandon Lloyd. It's the team that gave up as third and a fourth for T. J. Duckett. The Redskins have overpaid pre-Gibbs II and during Gibbs II. This is the first major test of the post-Gibbs II era.
This Johnson to the Redskins talk has Drew Rosenhaus written all over it. Johnson's agent loves to talk up the chances of his clients landing in Washington, where the money flows freely. It was the same with Lance Briggs last year and with Terrell Owens a couple of years ago.
Even before Lewis' statement, the view here was that the whole Johnson to the Redskins thing was a lot of smoke emanating from very little fire. Now it seems even more unlikely that the team will give up in terms of draft picks and/or players what it would take for Lewis to OK the deal and still save face.
Unlikely, yes. But given the team's history, you can't rule it out completely.