Houston Texans star receiver Andre Johnson’s recent comments to the media could mean bigger problems than the Texans might think. Johnson has had a spectacular career with the Texans and is most likely destined for Canton someday. It would be almost inconceivable to imagine the Texans without Johnson lining up to catch passes on Sundays, but the Texans could be facing that reality even sooner than expected.
Johnson recently remarked that he’s starting to feel like he doesn’t belong in Houston anymore and it’s not hard to see why he might feel that way. The Texans are going through big changes once again, even if some in the media downplay it. I’ve read a few places that the Texans are reloading rather than rebuilding, but I disagree, and I think Johnson feels the same way. His statements give the idea that he feels the team is headed in the wrong direction under first year coach Bill O’Brien.
With the first pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans selected South Carolina pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney, a pick I’m not sure Johnson was in favor of. Johnson had stated before the draft that he was in favor of the Texans trading back for more picks. While I seconded Johnson’s sentiments, I as a Texans fan am pleased with Clowney joining JJ Watt and Brian Cushing on the defense. After all, as the old adage goes: Defense wins championships.
Also in the draft, the Texans failed to secure a suitable QB after trading Matt Schaub to the Raiders for a 6th round pick. The Texans drafted Pittsburgh QB Tom Savage in the 4th round, a pick I was not in favor of, and I would be shocked if Johnson didn’t feel the same way. It was obvious when the Texans passed on Carr in the 2nd round that they were not after one of the big names in the draft, but rather a late round pick. There was talk of a trade for New England backup Ryan Mallet that never came to fruition.
The bottom line though is this: Johnson has been the ideal team member in Houston from day one. He has suffered through so much with this team with a smile on his face the entire way. The fact that he’s speaking out now means he is realizing that the Texans cannot make a Super Bowl push in the time he has left before he hangs it up. This is contrary to what many in the media would like you to believe, but I trust Johnson over anyone in the media. The Texans are not reloading; they are rebuilding, and Johnson doesn’t want to be part of it yet again. Who can blame him?
So what options does this leave the Texans and their disgruntled star? They could release him and let him choose where he wants to play, but that would be too expensive for the Texans. The most likely scenario besides keeping him and asking him to play out his contract would be a trade, however despite his talent, his contract is unattractive for a player of his age. Not many teams would be willing to take on that financial responsibility, with the exception of maybe Cleveland, given the Josh Gordon situation.
Cleveland is the best spot for Johnson, other than sucking it up and finishing his contract in Houston. He can mentor young receivers and catch passes from Hoyer and/or Johnny Manziel. Cleveland is a team that truly is headed in the right direction, and depending on how much Johnson has left in the tank, could get him back to the playoffs within a year or two. I don’t think Johnson wants to be a part of that though. I think if that’s what he wanted, he’d just keep his mouth shut and be happy rebuilding in Houston, unless of course Houston is farther off from contending than we think.