FOOTBALL NOTES (2/21) — The Charlotte Observer is reporting this morning that the Patriots have expressed an interest in Carolina reserve running back Anthony Johnson. Johnson is a 10-year veteran out of Notre Dame and played in all 16 games last season. His play was limited as he only rushed for 72 yards on 25 carries with no touchdowns, and had 13 receptions for 103 yards. New England may be interested in Johnson because Arizona runningback Adrian Murrell has reportedly declined the Patriots invitation to visit this week, feeling that the team is only going to go with “mediocre” players and isn’t going to improve very much.
The Star Ledger reported this morning that Jets veteran starting right defensive end Anthony Pleasant has indeed been contacted by the Patriots. Pleasant would be a great addition to the defense opposite Willie McGinest, but New England is going to need to restructure quarterback Drew Bledsoe’s contract which has a cap number of over $8-million this season in order to get him. The team is only currently just over $1-million under the salary cap.
The team also appears to have some competition in the opportunity to have veteran left tackle Bruce Armstrong return to the team. The Cleveland Chronicle-Telegram reports that Bruce Armstrong’s discussions with the Browns may be picking up. Armstrong’s agent John Geletka reportedly told the newspaper “There’s a good possibility – a very strong possibility – that Bruce will be signing with the Browns. We’ve had several conversations with the Browns. Bruce would love to come to Cleveland. He has a great relationship with coach Chris Palmer and thinks Tim Couch is a super quarterback who has a stronger arm and is more mobile than New England’s Drew Bledsoe.”
Troy Brown to visit Chiefs — This week should tell the tale on whether or not the Patriots will be able to keep him. Brown is expected to visit the Kansas City Chiefs today and has already turned down a $2.5-million per season offer from New England, saying after seeing what happened to Bruce Armstrong and Ben Coates, he didn’t want to sign a contract that had the majority of the money “backlogged”. Should the Patriots lose Brown, they will take another hit from their talented list of receivers that would at that point only include Terry Glenn, Vincent Brisby, Tony Simmons, and Sean Morey. The team has already lost Shawn Jefferson to the Atlanta Falcons.