For the past 24 hours, the NFL has been buzzing about the fact that Houston Texans‘ superstar WR Andre Johnson is unhappy with the team. He said yesterday that he doesn’t believe Houston is where he wants to be and he doesn’t plan on participating in any camp activities this summer. This is because the Texans are in rebuild mode and Johnson wants to compete for a Super Bowl before his career is over.
With that being the case, the Texans may have no choice but to move him. With Johnson turning 33 in July and having three years left on his contract with $34.5 million remaining, the likelihood of another team being willing to take on that money is slim. It is much more likely that teams wait for a possible release of Johnson so all of the money he is currently owed gets washed away. Then, a team can pay him a contract that is more palatable. In a perfect world, the Texans would keep Johnson, but he may force their hand if he refuses to play or causes a distraction for the team.
Now as far as the New England Patriots are concerned, they would be an ideal team to scoop Johnson up if he were released. They are a piece or two away from a Super Bowl (if they’re not there already), and they lack a proven outside receiver who can stretch the field. That would allow Tom Brady to use the entire field, and they could already be down a weapon for most of the year if Rob Gronkowski misses significant time. Johnson would remedy those concerns.
The Patriots must keep up with the Denver Broncos on offense since they have Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Andre Caldwell and Julius Thomas as pass catchers. Acquiring Johnson would allow them to match Denver as they have Julian Edelman, Aaron Dobson, Danny Amendola, (if healthy) Brandon LaFell, and maybe Kenbrell Thompkins along with Johnson as top pass catchers.
Should Johnson be released at some point, the Pats would seemingly be on his short list of teams to go to with the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, Broncos and Green Bay Packers. The Patriots have a few things that these other teams don’t, however.
First, the Pats have Brady at quarterback. The Seahawks have Russell Wilson, who is a very good quarterback, but I don’t think anyone will confuse him with Brady. And the Broncos have Peyton Manning, who still feels effects from a neck problem and is a notorious playoff choker. If Johnson wants to win a ring, he might shy away from partnering with Manning, as good as he is in the regular season. The 49ers would be a consideration, but they don’t have a QB in the same class as Brady and have a plethora of receivers. The Packers have Aaron Rodgers, who some argue is better than Brady at this stage of his career, but Green Bay doesn’t have a defense in the same league as the Pats.
The Patriots also have one of if not the best head coach in NFL history in Bill Belichick. Surely a smart guy like Johnson would want to pick a team with a great coach, and Belichick is the best in the business. Besides the coach and QB, the Pats have a scary defense with Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner at cornerback among others, Jerod Mayo leading the linebackers and a good core of young guys at the safety positions.
The Pats present the most upside for Johnson, and he could be a guy the Pats look at if cut. It’s a perfect marriage that could help lead to the team’s first Super Bowl win in nearly a decade.