The trade is pending league approval, according to Saints spokesman Greg Bensel. The Patriots would confirm the deal following the league's approval.
Johnson and Sullivan could both benefit from a change of scenery. Sullivan was a first-round pick (sixth overall) in 2003, while Johnson was a second-round choice that season. Both have yet to emerge as full-time starters.
Johnson spoke with the Boston Globe about his situation earlier this offseason. A sampling of his comments:
-- ďItís hard for me to sit here and watch. I hate it. I hate it with a passion. Iíve been totally disappointed.Ē
-- ďIím doing everything I have to do every single year to make it happen. But itís not up to me. Iíve asked the question for the last three years really. Catch the ball better -- I stay and catch the ball. Run more routes -- I run more routes. Somethingís not there.Ē
-- ďIt got real frustrating at one point. I bust my tail, everybody knows that about me. It just wasnít happening for me. It was really frustrating. Really frustrating. You have no idea.Ē
-- ď[In college, critics] wrote me off because I got hurt the year before and had a bad [medical] condition. They talk bad about you in the papers and then I came back and had a great year. Iíve spent 27 years proving everyone wrong. Keep it coming. It just motivates me.Ē
Sullivan is signed through the 2009 season. Johnson is signed through 2007.
Sullivan joins a defensive line mix that includes starters Richard Seymour, Vince Wilfork and Ty Warren. The top backups are Jarvis Green, Marquise Hill, Mike Wright and Dan Klecko. Sixth-round pick Le Kevin Smith is also in the mix, along with first-year player Santonio Thomas and rookie free agents Remi Ayodele and Kader Drame.