Any Interest in Andre Johnson?

Posted: July 10th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 34 Comments »

There is a strange situation going on in Houston. Star WR Andre Johnson wasn’t thrilled when the team made a coaching change. He read this as a rebuilding phase and since he’ll be 33 this season didn’t want any part of that. After meeting with coach Bill O’Brien, Johnson changed his mind. He wanted to mend fences with the team. That’s when things went strange. Per PFT:

If the Texans could have brought receiverAndre Johnson back into the fold by simply giving him a way to earn back the $1 million roster bonus he had forfeited by skipping the early phases of the offseason program, why didn’t they?

Before delving into the question, consider this.  It’s true and accurate, as first reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, that Johnson offered to show up for OTAs and minicamp in exchange for a way to earn back the $1 million roster bonus — and that the Texans said thanks and no.  Johnson’s olive branch came after he took some time to get to know the knew coaching staff, and after he concluded that the franchise hasn’t plunged into a full-blown rebuilding process.  Johnson was ready to show up and get to work, with his only request being that the organization give him a way to earn the money that hinged on his full participation in the offseason program.

That was it.  That’s all he wanted.  And the Texans said no.

For now, the fracture has become a full-blown schism.  After the team refused to give him a way to earn back the money, Johnson became committed to the idea of playing elsewhere.

So why didn’t the Texans simply let Johnson save a little face and in turn a lot of money?  If there’s a rational explanation, the explanation has yet to make its way into the eyes and ears of the media.  While it shows the other players on the team that contracts will be honored as written, it undermines, and potentially poisons, the relationship with Johnson.

Sure sounds like things will probably be over between Houston and Johnson. It isn’t like he’s a high-maintenance prima donna. Johnson is a classy veteran and probably the best player in Texans history. Weird.

If the Texans put Johnson on the market, should the Eagles have interest?

No.

If the question was simply about Johnson, the answer would be yes. But he’s not a free agent. Compensation is a factor. Johnson is a band-aid. I would not give up a pick for him. He’s older and expensive. Is he a good player? Yes. But the Eagles don’t need a workhorse WR, which is what Johnson is best at.

Let’s talk about age for a minute. The Eagles gave up a 5th round pick for Darren Sproles. What about that? Sproles is 31. He also impacts STs as well as offense. Sproles cost a cheap pick and has a reasonable salary. Johnson is a starting player. He would cost a higher pick and bigger salary. Do you want to add a 33-year old WR when the current group is young and has potential?

If this were mid-August and someone had gotten hurt, then you make a deal. Right now the Eagles are healthy and WR isn’t a position of “need”. I’m sure several of you will point out that Jeremy Maclin is coming off an ACL tear and that the Eagles have a couple of rookies in key roles. That’s true. But Maclin has looked good so far and the goal is to build up a young corps of WRs. The Eagles need to get Matthews, Huff, Benn and the others on the field.

Johnson is a bit of an awkward fit for Chip Kelly’s offense. He certainly has the size and physicality that Kelly loves. But I’m not so sure that Johnson is what Kelly wants. Johnson is a guy you feed the ball to. In 5 of the last 8 years, Johnson has caught 100 or more passes. I think Kelly prefers to spread the ball and use multiple guys. I’m also curious whether Johnson is all that much of a threat after the catch anymore. He averaged just 3.8 RAC yards per reception. Johnson was 2nd in the NFL in RAC yards in 2012. Did age start to catch up or was he merely struggling due to an overall offensive letdown?

I see Johnson as the kind of player you add if you are desperate for WR help or a veteran team that is looking for that push to get them over the top. The Eagles don’t fit either category so I think they pass on him.

Then again, I didn’t expect them to go for Sproles so never say never. Just seems unlikely to me.

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  • the midatlantic

    Sproles trade still kinda confuses me.

    • TommyLawlor

      I think they really wanted his RS ability. I’ll be writing about him as a RB in the near future.

    • Ark87

      Agreed, didn’t make a ton of sense on either side of the trade for me. The Saints are loading up for a mega push towards a super bowl for next year and maybe the year after before their window closes. So they drop a proven impact player in favor of a young guy to basically take a roster spot until he pans out or doesn’t. And we pick up a guy who could regress beyond use any season even though our window is wide open but seems primed to peak starting in ’15.

      On the other hand, having invested in the now with Sproles, trading for Andre makes some sense with that context.

      • Buge Halls

        Sproles still has lots of speed and great hands. He’ll be the slot receiver Chip wanted last year but didn’t have. And he’s been pretty much injury-free for his career. We’ll get at least two solid years out of him, if not three. At his age, I don’t expect him to run between the tackles much – I expect him to be mostly a receiver and KR. But who knows with Chipper!

        • Ark87

          I don’t think he’s useless or anything like that. It’s just the idea of trading future minded resources for a right now resource.

        • Dominik

          Let’s hope it doesn’t turn out to be that way, but Sproles COULD be similar to Casey last year. Both had their price tag (salary, in case of Sproles a 5th rounder). If you think about Sproles as slot receiver, both got competition in the draft (Ertz, Huff, I wouldn’t count Matthews since it was crystal clear we’d be picking one WR in this draft, I’d count Huff because he seems like a true slot receiver).

          Now, maybe Sproles was never really planned to be a slot receiver. Maybe he was planned to be TAZR, decoy and RS. Then it doesn’t matter that they drafted Huff.

          Most of us love Chip, but he sure seems to have no feeling for the draft yet. It shocked me that he wanted to pick Hart in the third and afaik that was confirmed from Howie. The reason I say this is: maybe Chip thought Huff was going to be a 2nd rounder and while he preferred Matthews (obv.), he thought Huff won’t be there in the 3rd. Therefore he wanted Howie to pick up Sproles. Possible, at least.

      • Mike Roman

        Maybe from the Saints perspective they were up against the cap and needed money to make a play for Byrd and to re-sign Jimmy Graham? One of those things where they didn’t have money to pay everyone? That was my thought on it but I could totally be off base.

        • Ark87

          You may have a point there

    • Mike Roman

      I was actually ok with the trade. I know some people are hung up on giving up a draft pick for a player on the decline. To me, it’s a 5th round pick (not a lock to make the roster) for a proven and productive player. And it seems like Chip Kelly is making a concerted effort to improve STs this year. If Sproles becomes our next Brian Mitchell, I think everyone will be quite happy. And I think he’ll offer more offensively than Mitchell.

  • Baloophi

    “Any interest in Andre Johnson?” could be the new “Does the Pope have a funny hat?”

    • Baloophi

      “Will Andy Reid call play-action on first down?”

      • TommyLawlor

        The defense will never be expecting it!!!

  • anon

    Obviously better fit for a team like Carolina — that move probably puts them in contention in the NFC.

    For us, while we don’t need a workhorse I’d love to trade Riley Copper and a pick for Andre. In Houston, more than the new coaching staff it’s the fact that they don’t have a QB. I couldn’t believe they made Fitz their stating QB.

    Bottom line it won’t happen hear, comp too high, he’s super old, etc., honestly in big games sometimes you need a playmaker. When schemes aren’t working sometimes you need a guy that can put a team on his back.

    • Dominik

      In Houston, more than the new coaching staff it’s the fact that they
      don’t have a QB. I couldn’t believe they made Fitz their stating QB.

      That was one risky move by O’Brien. He seems to be certain that he’s allowed to have one bad year. I’d bet a lot of money, despite what all sides are saying, that Johnson didn’t turn up in the first place was his reaction to his disappointment in the QB (non-)selections in the draft. Remember that story broke right after the draft.

      I’m not saying it was a dumb move by O’Brien. There was no QB on the market (besides McCown, who would have been a good fit for Houston – they would have needed him more than the Buccs, who have Glennon in the mix). There was no one they liked in the draft. Chip had the same situation when he came here, but he had the luxury of a young, talented QB on the roster. He then re-signed an at least decent vet. The Texans had nothing.

      Houston can win some games, of course. They have a potentially good D and a potentially good running game. Fitz may have an Harvard IQ, but his NFL skills are very limited.

    • Buge Halls

      Johnson is not worth Cooper AND a pick – he’s 33 years old and probably has another two years left in the tank. He might be worth a 4th round, but then again, he likely has a huge contract to contend with.

      • anon

        he’s hauled in 3000 yds in the last two years. even a 30% slowdown is better than any WR currently on our roster. he is old though.

  • Sconces

    For the record, I don’t want Johnson. It just doesn’t seem necessary. But for the sake of argument:

    I’m not so sure he’d cost a high draft pick in a trade. I mean Jackson is a prime example of this, we’d have been lucky to get a 4th because the league knew we were ridding him. Isn’t that similar to Johnson? Also factor in age and I just don’t know how high of a draft pick a team would really need to give.

    “Johnson is a guy you feed the ball to.” Maybe I’m wrong here but isn’t Matthews kind of a possession receiver as well?

    • anon

      age and cap hit. Maybe we can get him for BB’s pick-did we spend that?

    • TommyLawlor

      Matthews was a workhorse at Vandy because they had so little else on offense. Good athlete with RAC skills. And cheap and young.

  • CTAZPA

    I agree that he won’t likely cost much in trade. His diminishing value on the field, his age and his contract could make him kind of cheap.

    He’s strong and big. He’s been dominant. We have a record of success with Houston players. I’d want to know if he blocks and if the RAC issues have another explanation than age. I’m sure scouts are looking at that now.

    Cooper plus a five? It would be the right kind of risk.

    • D3FB

      Cooper just signed a deal. The Eagles would have 8 million in dead money by trading Cooper. They would also be taking on Johnson’s base salaries of >10mil each for the next three seasons, for a declining player.

      • anon

        “declining player” gets tossed around but he had 1400yds last year with that carousel of QBs. Imagine if he had a quality QB and coach?

        • TommyLawlor

          Fair point.

          To counter, how much of those stats does he put up because the ball is being forced his way? Riley Cooper had more TDs and 40-yd receptions. AJ had a lot of catches and yards, but they didn’t mean a lot.

          • anon

            1) They don’t mean a lot when your QB tosses a pick sx every game (eagles 2012). But they have Deandre Hopkins, great RBs and a pass catching TE, he wasn’t the only option.

            2) AJ won’t have a ton of TDs b/c they feed the ball to Foster anywhere near the redzone.

            3) Arguably we’re not looking for a big play guy (djax) but a chain mover / guy that can beat man.

            I don’t think we’ll get him b/c we’re stocked at the position and it’ll kill our cap situation BUT seems to me he’d be the type of guy we’d be blogging about during FA.

            Also thanks for taking the time to respond to my post — scratching that off my bucket list.

      • CTAZPA

        Dang, you’re spoiling my fantasy football dream of events. How about AJ gets released and we sign him at a discount?

  • Cafone

    Ya know what we could have probably gotten him for? DeSean Jackson straight up. Just sayin’.

    • TommyLawlor

      I doubt Bill O’Brien would have wanted Jackson. At PSU they had bigger guys. With the Pats, they had big guys or small guys that were quick and worked the middle of the field well.

      Plus, the Texans owner is very conservative when it comes to players character. I don’t know that he would have approved of such a move.

  • Mike Roman

    Maybe he can take advantage of the schism and find time to get sconces.

  • MFlick

    Living in Houston, I think you are underplaying what kind of player Andre is. He is right there with the top receivers of the game. He is like TO without the crap. He is by far the best player on that team (Save Watt).

    He never had a real QB and still produces numbers while being the focus of defenses. He is a top production guy while getting double teamed every play. He really is a difference maker and can get open while being doubled.

    This is not an equivalent to Desean, he is a huge upgrade.

    I am not saying we should, but he is a guy who could put a team over the top. He would instantly make everyone better on offense. The combination of defenses having to focus on Dre and McCoy? I could be offensive coordinator and run up the score.

    • Ark87

      You make a strong case. It’s amazing how much a team’s struggle devalues the individual player. In 2011, AP was hurt and shady was one of the Big 3 in consideration for the 2nd best back in the league. 2012 happens, he gets forgotten. Now he’s back in a big way in 2013. So yeah, we probably shouldn’t assume he is washed up or diminished.

  • SteveH

    Biggest issue with Johnson IMO is his huge contract. If we could get him for 9-10 mil a year instead of 15 or more I’d be interested. We got too many of our own guys to re-sign to be dropping 15+ this year and the next.

    • Tumtum

      I’m no cap guy but Johnson is only signed through 3 more years. The Eagles have tons of room and should be able to carry that contract for the next 3 years without it really affecting what they are able to do with the contract of our young players.

      To go to a contender I bet he would restructure anyway.

  • Tumtum

    One word: Absofuckinglutely
    With a side note: At fair market value. The patriots got Randy Moss for a 4th rounder? Lets start there!

  • Raul Estrada

    I don’t see him as a diva WR just as much as I didn’t see Jason Avant as one, but Avant and Chip had their differences, and I could see AJ and CK have some differences, too.