The question of where Andre Johnson will play in 2014 has been a hotly debated subject for the last couple of weeks. The longtime star is unhappy with the current state of the Texans and reportedly wants a change of scenery. If Johnson isn’t playing in Houston next season, then where will he be?
These five teams were suggested by Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated as possible landing spots for the disgruntled Houston wideout.
Carolina Panthers- This is an option that we’ve mentioned before. However, as we said in the previous piece, a move is unlikely to happen since the Panthers only have $5.5 million in cap space. Even though Johnson has been a great receiver, the Panthers should not give up what would likely be a lot of draft picks for a player that is 33 and doesn’t have the ability to stretch the field anymore. I think they would be better off in the long term, though maybe not in the short term to pass on Johnson.
Cleveland Browns- Johnson has said he wants to go to a contender, which he would not get that in Cleveland. But if you’re Houston’s brass, why do you care? The cap space is there, as the Browns have the second most cap space in the league currently at over $24 million. So they could take on Johnson’s contract, and likely not force Houston to eat more than they’d want to. They picked up an extra first rounder in the Sammy Watkins deal with Buffalo, so they might be more willing to part with picks than other teams might be (though not that first rounder). With Josh Gordon’s future in question, picking up a receiver for Brian Hoyer or Jonny Manziel would be helpful in 2014 and if Gordon can get himself back on track, even deadlier in the future.
Kansas City Chiefs- At over $10 million, the Chiefs have the cap space to pull of this deal and they certainly need help at wide receiver. Dwayne Bowe is a solid receiver, but is unreliable with his history of drops and injuries. After Bowe, Donnie Avery, Junior Hemingway and A.J. Jenkins are unlikely to keep opposing defensive coordinators up at night. The Chiefs need to have a more varied passing attack to help Alex Smith and take pressure off Jamaal Charles and the running game. The Chiefs made it work last season, but they cannot survive with an offense as unbalanced as it was last season for very long.
New England Patriots- At just under $7 million under the cap, this would be a tight squeeze for the Patriots. But with Tom Brady and others being willing to restructure their deals, I would not doubt that they could pull it off. He might be exactly what the Patriots need, considering their two starting receivers are Julian Edelman and the oft-injured Danny Amendola. A decade ago, they acquired Corey Dillon, a malcontent player on a consistently bad Cincinnati team and he fit right in with the Pats and was a key part of another championship team. Johnson could do the same.
New York Jets- Even after picking up Eric Decker this offseason, the Jets still need receiving help. Johnson could fit the bill as the #1 very well. The Jets have almost $23 million in cap space so that wouldn’t be a problem. With a good defense in place, a legit #1 target for Geno Smith may be all they need to become an instant playoff threat in the AFC. Hell, they might even be able to challenge the Patriots in the AFC East (they split two very close games with the Pats last season, it’s not entirely out of the question).
Now for one more:
Green Bay Packers- This is the team that I say, “this won’t happen, but it sure would be fun if it did”. Johnson isn’t really what the Packers need, but at over $13.5 million in cap space, they could work it. Could you imagine the nightmare of having to cover all of the weapons that Aaron Rodgers would have at his disposal? With Jordy Nelson, Andre Johnson and Randall Cobb to take the top of the defense, you can’t double everyone. The best quarterback in the league would present other teams with a pick your poison option in the passing game. Plus even with all those options in the passing game, Eddie Lacy will keep the defense honest. It would be a potentially record-breaking offense.
As far as where he will end up, I don’t think he ends up on any of these teams. I think he ultimately will report to the Texans, and ultimately will be dealt to a team that suffers a crucial injury at receiver before the trade deadline. That might be in the preseason or during the regular season. The demand will push up the compensation for the Texans, and that’s what they need to be holding out for. For a player that has been the good soldier in Houston for over a decade, they should be gracious enough to let him go for an opportunity to pursue a championship in the twilight of his career and as a team the Texans should embrace their rebuild.