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Johnson Still Content Backing Up Josh Freeman At QB

Buccaneers quarterback Josh Johnson is okay with being Josh Freeman’s backup, but for one more year only, reports Anwar Richardson of The Tampa Tribune.

“In all reality, and it might sound crazy when I say this, I never played football to just be a backup. That was never my goal,” Johnson said. “I always push myself to be the best and the only way you can be the best at something is being on the field all the time. That’s not the situation I am in right now.”

A 2008 fifth-round pick out of the University of San Diego, Johnson sat his entire rookie season before getting a four-game starting stint in place of Byron Leftwich during the 2009 season. Johnson completed just over 50% of his 126 pass attempts for 685 yards with four touchdowns, adding 148 yards on the ground.

Johnson was also intercepted eight times, including three times in his final start against the New England Patriots in London’s Wembley Stadium, and fumbled seven times, losing just one. Freeman seized control of the starting job in the Buccaneers’ next game.

In limited snaps last season, Johnson completed 14-of-16 pass attempts for 111 yards. Johnson is scheduled to earn $596,833 in the fourth and final year of his $1.877 million rookie contract.

“I’m not playing and I understand why I’m in that situation, but I didn’t get into this (football) for lifetime financially security. That’s what other people’s goals are, but I got to get on the field. That’s just the kind of player I am. I like to earn my keep. If I fail on my own, I can live with that because I had the opportunity, but if I have to sit back and accept what is already there for me to get, then I’ll feel like I shorted myself, and I don’t get down like that.”

Earlier this offseason, Johnson was linked to the San Francisco 49ers, who had named Jim Harbaugh head coach. Harbaugh was Johnson’s head coach at San Diego, but the 49ers used a second-round pick on Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick and are expected to re-sign Alex Smith once the lockout ends.

Depending upon how Andy Dalton’s rookie season goes, Johnson could be an option in 2012 for the Cincinnati Bengals. Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden was an offensive assistant for the Buccaneers in Johnson’s rookie season.

Johnson was a three-year starter for the Toreros, passing for 9,699 yards and 113 touchdowns while running for 1,864 yards and an additional 19 touchdowns. USD went 30-4 in Johnson’s starts.

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