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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Josh Johnson's best option might no longer available

21

March

Of the Bucs' own unrestricted free agents, backup quarterback Josh Johnson might be the most interesting of the lot.

But he hit the market just as a flurry of quarterback moves was beginning around the NFL, from the Peyton Manning Tour to the availability of Matt Flynn to the draft-related maneuvers being made to acquire quarterbacks.

Now that the dust is starting to settle, Johnson is taking his first free-agent visit, sitting down today with coach Mike Shanahan and the Redskins, according to NFL.com. The Redskins, of course, employ Bruce Allen, the former Bucs general manager who drafted Johnson and now is the Redskins' GM.

But the most promising landing spot for Johnson might now have to be crossed off his list. When the 49ers came to terms with Alex Smith on Tuesday night, it removed the possibility of the San Francisco starting job being up for grabs. Smith, despite the 49ers' pursuit of Manning and the hurt feelings that might have resulted -- he was in talks with the Dolphins before opting to return -- will almost certainly be the Niners' opening-day quarterback. And the fact that 2011 draft pick Colin Kaepernick remains on the roster as a solid No. 2 likely means the 49ers have no use for Johnson -- despite coach Jim Harbaugh having coached Johnson in college and the fact Johnson is a San Francisco Bay-area native.

Johnson could well wind up in Washington if today's visit goes well, but to suggest that he has a long-term future there is unrealistic. The Redskins have already executed a trade with the Rams and now own the No. 2 pick in the draft, a choice they fully intend to use on Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III of Baylor. That means that Johnson might have an opportunity to start initially, but the most likely scenario is that Griffin is the starter in the very near future, if not immediately.

In the end, Johnson's skill set remains intriguing. He's one of the more athletically-gifted quarterbacks in the league, and he has a relatively strong arm. But his 0-5 record as a starter and some very uneven performances won't help him on the open market.

Now, he's probably lost his best chance to compete for a starting job in San Francisco. But whatever happens, it would appear Johnson's situation is getting closer to a resolution, now that other quarterback moves are beginning to unfold.

[Last modified: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 9:50am]

    

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