When the Carolina Panthers drafted Southern California receiver Dwayne Jarrett in the second round Saturday, Keyshawn Johnson was ecstatic.

"This is a great pick. We need another wide receiver," Johnson gushed while working as a draft analyst for ESPN. "This guy is much like me. I'm going to teach him how to play from the point of attack."

He won't get the chance.

The Panthers deemed their older former USC receiver was expendable yesterday. Johnson, the 6-4 possession receiver and 1996 No. 1 overall pick, was released to make way for a younger 6-4 possession receiver taken with the 45th pick.

"We appreciated the contribution of Keyshawn in his season with the Panthers," coach John Fox said. "He brought us high production, but at this time we are in a situation in which we have a number of young receivers and thought this was the right time to make the decision."

The Panthers also selected receiver Ryne Robinson in the fourth round of the draft. While he likely will be primarily used as a punt returner, he did catch 91 passes at Miami of Ohio last season. The Panthers also have receivers Drew Carter and Keary Colbert - plus star Steve Smith.

Johnson, who will turn 35 in July, had 70 catches for 815 yards and four touchdowns last season and became the 16th player in NFL history with 800 career catches. The Panthers signed Johnson last year after he was released by Dallas in a salary-cap move so the Cowboys could sign Terrell Owens.

It was hoped Johnson would take pressure off Smith, who was Carolina's lone option in 2005 and was shut down in the NFC Championship Game by Seattle. But the Panthers, plagued by injuries, stumbled to an 8-8 record and missed the playoffs.

Numerous calls placed to Johnson yesterday were not returned. Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said he had a couple of phone conversations with him.

"I don't think he agreed with the decision. I think he feels like he could have come in and helped us in our goal of trying to get to the playoffs and win the championship, but I think he understood our thought process," Hurney said. "I would just say he didn't agree with it."

Johnson has said in the past he would like to work in television after his career his over. Recently he indicated he'd be interested in becoming a general manager of a team someday.

However, Johnson said late last season he wanted to play at least 2 more years and get to 1,000 career receptions.


* Marcus Vick, signed by Miami last season as a free-agent receiver after a troubled career as Virginia Tech's quarterback, was waived. Vick appeared in one game with the Dolphins.

* Jacksonville released punter Chris Hanson.

* Kansas City released 9-year defensive end Eric Hicks.

* Tampa Bay acquired defensive tackle Ryan Sims, the sixth overall pick in 2002, from Kansas City for an undisclosed draft pick.

* The National Football League Players Association is countersuing six current and former players who are seeking to hold the union and league liable for millions of dollars they lost in an alleged fraud scheme. Among the players are two former Eagles: defensive end Clyde Simmons and linebacker Carlos Emmons.

The NFLPA, in papers filed last week in federal court in Atlanta, accuses Simmons, Emmons, Steve Atwater, Ray Crockett, Al Smith and Blaine Bishop of breach of contract.

The action by the union follows a lawsuit filed last June against the NFL and NFLPA by the players over $20 million they lost by investing their money with a hedge-fund manager that they say the union endorsed even though the manager had liens against him. *