Andre Johnson is unhappy with the Houston Texans. He watched his quarterback change from the reliable if lately cursed Matt Schaub to everyone’s favorite backup plan, former Harvard QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. Then there was a disagreement about a workout bonus. Johnson has displayed his angst by not participating in team exercises.
What is former Miami Hurricane Johnson’s problem? Johnson is reaching the dreaded mid-thirties for wide receivers. He is currently 33, two years younger than former Panthers receiver Steve Smith. Houston looked like a playoff team two years ago. They got hit with injuries and the sudden decline to Schaub, but the new staff seems content to reload at the moment. This is the moment where Johnson may not have the time to profit from the reload. So he is trying to get out.
Should the Panthers pursue Johnson?
Yes. Yes. And again yes. The Panthers need a definitive threat at wide receiver. Johnson is still 6’3” and 220 lbs, which is almost prototypical for a wideout if things weren’t so freakish these days. If he is healthy, he still a seven time Pro Bowler. He would instantly draw the attention of opposing defenses, which would make life easier for Cam Newton, Greg Olsen, and the development of Kelvin Benjamin.
Isn’t this just another Steve Smith situation in two years?
No. Smith has one flaw that he never truly eliminated. He was short. The possibilities for a declining short receiver are limited. Johnson will always be 6’3”, which means that even if he loses a step he can be used to jump over smaller cornerbacks on short yardage or endzone plays. With 6’3” Johnson on one side, and 6’5” Benjamin on the other, who do you cover in those situations?
So, Panthers, where do you want to be? You can watch defenses try to choke off Benjamin and carefully manufacture every yard out of our passing game with Cotchery and Avant or we can bring in the true number one receiver that we lack.
The Panthers only have $5 million under the cap to try to restructure Johnson’s current deal, but that is what they pay Dave Gettleman the big bucks for.