Johnson skips the start of Bengals' workouts, still wants trade

Updated: March 25, 2008, 10:13 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

CINCINNATI -- Chad Johnson skipped the start of the Bengals' offseason workouts Monday, the latest move to show he's unhappy with how he's perceived in Cincinnati.

Johnson said in interviews last week that he is skipping the voluntary workouts to reinforce his message that he'd like to play somewhere else. The Bengals have said repeatedly that they have no intention of trading him.

"I can't force them to trade me. … I'm just trying to let them know I'm not happy," Johnson told ESPN's Stuart Scott on Monday. "We're fooling ourselves not doing things we need to do to compete with the Indy's, the Jacksonville's, Dallas. How do you let Shaun Rogers get away? That helps your run defense. Our defense gives us a chance to win. I'm frustrated. I'm feeling like our fans felt 10 or 11 years before I got here and now we're going backward … not forward. We finished 11-5, 8-8, 7-9 … what are we gonna be this season coming up?"

T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who tied for the NFL lead in receptions with 112 last season, also is skipping the voluntary workouts for the second straight year. Johnson has been a regular at the workouts until now.

I wish they were here, but we'll work with what we've got and the guys that are here. That's exciting, too.

--Carson Palmer

Coach Marvin Lewis addressed the absences with the other players.

"What I addressed is that in the NFL there are a lot of different situations that occur throughout the season and the offseason, and they are not a bearing on any one particular player," Lewis said. "Whatever occurs, this is professional football. You have to deal with it in your way."

Johnson became indignant last season after a local newspaper columnist suggested his look-at-me antics were hurting the team. Fans also criticized his approach as the season careened to a 7-9 finish.

"I love the fans of Cincinnati," Johnson told ESPN. "Everything I do, I do for them. They ain't had no fun since '88 or '89."

Johnson stopped talking to the local media last season, but went on national interview shows before the Super Bowl and again last week reiterating that he feels unappreciated. Johnson has said repeatedly that he'd like to play for another team.

The Bengals would take a huge hit to their salary cap if they traded him. Johnson has four years left on his contract, which was extended in April 2006. He will make $3 million in base salary next season, and can make $18.5 million over the rest of the deal.

He caught 93 passes for a club-record 1,440 yards and eight touchdowns last season, when he became the Bengals' career leader in catches and yards.

"I wish they were here," quarterback Carson Palmer said of the two receivers, "but we'll work with what we've got and the guys that are here. That's exciting, too."

Houshmandzadeh is spending the offseason in California with a personal trainer. Johnson is staying away to make a point.

"I'm not going to get too involved in it," Palmer said. "I know the guys that are here are working their butts off and working for a spot.

"I'm not worried. We've got a good group of guys -- some mature guys, some veteran guys -- that won't let any off-the-field distractions get in the way of what needs to be done, all of the work that's going on right now."

With Johnson and Houshmandzadeh elsewhere, No. 3 receiver Chris Henry was the top returning receiver at workouts on Monday. Henry was suspended by the league for the first eight games of last season. He caught 21 passes for 343 yards and two touchdowns after his return.

His four arrests and repeated punishment have set him back.

"That's all in the past," Henry said. "I'm just excited and ready to get started again."

Henry missed having Johnson around.

"He is like a brother," Henry said. "He's been here since I've been here, and he really took me in when I got here. I'd hate to see him leave."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

ALSO SEE