All-everything Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson is not a happy man. After suffering through the indignity of a 2-14 season, he’s had to watch his franchise bumble through an offseason in which they’ve done relatively little to upgrade the team.
Yes, taking Jadeveon Clowney No. 1 overall in the draft was a good move — and something of a no-brainer. And pairing him with the beast that is J.J. Watt gives Houston a ferocious pass rush, but the Texans passed on a number of highly-rated quarterbacks, an area of desperate need after trading away Matt Schaub, before settling on Tom Savage in the fourth round.
It’s been an offseason that has left Johnson understandably frustrated and wondering aloud whether Houston is the right place for him anymore.
Johnson has skipped the team’s voluntary workouts and has told the media that he has no plans to attend Houston’s OTAs or minicamp, leaving most people wondering if he will appear when training camp opens in July. An awful lot of people are of the opinion that Johnson does not want to spend the twilight of his career with an organization in full rebuild mode, and that he wants to play for a winner.
To that end, by talking to the media and staying away from team activities, some people believe that Johnson is attempting to force Houston to trade him.
In addressing the media, new Texans head coach Bill O’Brien has said that he’s spoken with Johnson and that their communication about the state – and direction – of the franchise has been “very good and very positive.” Noticeably absent from O’Brien’s remarks though was any sort of assurance that Johnson’s place is in fact in Houston, or that he’d still be with the team when training camp opens.
O’Brien has yet to say that the Texans weren’t exploring trade options for their superstar, and super-disgruntled wide receiver. Sure, it’s parsing words and speculating intensely, but that doesn’t necessarily make it outside the realm of possibility.
Given Johnson’s unhappiness in Houston, talking heads have begun talking about possible landing spots for the seven-time Pro Bowler. Of course, the New England Patriots have come up as a possible destination, but they have some salary cap issues already. Though they can probably find a way to work it out, rumors suggest that Johnson will have to agree to restructure his current contract for any deal with the Patriots to take place.
Another possible trade partner that has surfaced somewhat recently are the Oakland Raiders. It’s a deal that would make sense for both parties. From the Raiders, Houston might be able to secure a couple of draft picks, which for a team in rebuilding mode are gold. They would get some salary cap relief as well.
The Raiders would get a true No. 1 receiver, a very highly productive veteran as evidenced by 109 catches and 1,407 yards last season. He, along with James Jones, can mentor a Raiders receiving corps that includes Denarius Moore, Rod Streater and Andre Holmes, a group that has a world of potential but a tremendous lack of experience.
Johnson would seem to blend well with the high-character, blue-collar team that GM Reggie McKenzie is building in Oakland.
Assuming that the Texans would be willing to part with Johnson, the questions then become, “would McKenzie mortgage a piece of the future in the form of draft picks for a shot to win today?” Given that his job is on the line this season, winning today is his only real option. And would the Raiders, who still have some money to spend, be willing to pony up the salary Johnson commands?
Johnson is on the backside of his career, but he still has some gas left in the tank. He wants to play for a winner. The Raiders are a team on the rise, and he’d get to pair with his old QB in Schaub, whom he’s had some statistically incredible years with. If they were able to swing a deal for him, the sky would be the limit for the Raiders in 2014.