The NFL war on the "player with an attitude" continues -- and rightfully so. Meanwhile the Pats trade a fast kick returner that can hurt a opponent -- just ask the Colts.
Saints done with Sullivan
2003 first-round pick is traded to Patriots
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
By Mike Triplett
Staff writer - The Times-Picayune
The Saints traded their underachieving 2003 first-round draft pick to the New England Patriots on Monday in exchange for receiver/kick returner Bethel Johnson.
Saints officials declined to comment Monday, as the deal is pending league approval, and Sullivan could not be reached for comment.
Sullivan and Johnson, a second-round pick, have been disappointments since being drafted in 2003. Sullivan, 25, likely will be remembered in New Orleans as one of the Saints' biggest draft busts.
The Saints traded up to acquire Sullivan with the No. 6 overall pick in 2003. They sent the 17th and 18th picks, along with their second-round pick, to Arizona in exchange for the Cardinals' first-, second- and fourth-round picks.
Sullivan, who is listed at 6 feet 3, 315 pounds, left Georgia after his junior season and was disappointing in his first two seasons with the Saints, struggling to keep his weight down and often being criticized for his lack of desire and effort.
Last season, Sullivan finally showed some glimpses of his potential, playing in 15 games and making a career-high 42 tackles.
But Sullivan failed to show enough evidence to the Saints' new coaching staff that he had turned things around.
His attendance in the Saints' offseason workout program was sparse and his conditioning was poor, as evidenced by fatigue problems during last weekend's minicamp.
Sullivan provided some optimism last weekend, saying he weighed 328 pounds -- an improvement over the days when he weighed 350 to 355 pounds. He also said when he wasn't in New Orleans this summer, he was working out at home in Georgia, where he was moving into a new house.
Still, the Saints have demanded change under first-year coach Sean Payton, cutting ties with several veterans and seeking players with high character, desire and work ethic.
Sullivan still will cost more than $5 million against the Saints' salary cap during the next two seasons, stemming from his original signing bonus. But they will be relieved of his scheduled 2006 salary of $689,083.
Johnson, 27, is due $478,000 this year and $546,000 next year in the final two years of his original contract.
The 5-foot-11, 200-pounder is regarded as one of the NFL's fastest players, but he was used sparingly as a receiver in New England, where most of his value came as a kickoff returner.
Johnson caught 30 passes in three years for 450 yards and four touchdowns. He returned 102 kickoffs for a 25.1-yard average and two touchdowns, and he returned six punts for 21 yards.
With the Saints, Johnson will compete with a crowded group of young receivers for the third-, fourth- and fifth-receiver roles. He could also complement or compete with veteran Michael Lewis as the primary return man.
Johnson's character and work ethic were never issues in New England, but health and toughness were question marks. He missed last year's training camp and much of September with foot and thigh injuries.
Johnson had a series of surgeries on his spleen while at Texas A&M, but the condition has not been an issue in the NFL.
Last month, Johnson expressed frustration with his inability to earn more playing time, telling the Boston Globe that he has been "totally disappointed."
"It's hard for me to sit here and watch. I hate it. I hate it with a passion," Johnson told the newspaper. "I'm doing everything I have to do every single year to make it happen. But it's not up to me. I've asked the question for the last three years, really. Catch the ball better -- I stay and catch the ball. Run more routes -- I run more routes. Something's not there."
Johnson and Sullivan now will have an opportunity to turn things around.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
New Orleans Saints Trade Johnathan Sullivan To New England for WR/KR Bethel Johnson- The Times-Picayune
Posted by Zennie Abraham at 1:34 PM