By Eric Edholm
It’s hard to get into the head of Andre Johnson because the soft-spoken, largely private wide receiver doesn’t let us in all that often.
But Johnson certainly didn’t lighten up his situation with the Houston Texans and has yet to give any indication on whether he plans to show up this season.
Johnson, who has voiced his general displeasure with his place with the Texans, told NFL Network that he’s not sure of his plans.
“I don’t know. I can’t answer that question,” Johnson said flatly.
Now NFL.com is reporting that Johnson wants a trade and that four teams are interested.
Johnson reportedly has told this to the Texans, but they appear to be balking at that for now. Yes, Johnson has put up two fantastic seasons in a row and still can play at a high level. But there is the matter of Johnson’s high base salary ($10 million in 2014) that could make a trade prohibitive, plus the fact that the Texans would take a taxing hit of $12 million of dead money on their salary cap if they did ship him out.
We have not heard anything definitive from Johnson. He also demonstrated his quiet nature in terms of how he’s approaching the whole situation in the clip above.
“I just choose not to talk publicly about it,” Johnson said. “It’s in-house, and that’s the way I choose to keep it. I’m not a big media guy, so I won’t … you know, I refuse to talk about it. Training camp is a few weeks away, so we’ll see what happens.”
New Texans head coach Bill O’Brien, who cut his NFL teeth with the New England Patriots as one of Bill Belichick’s top lieutenants, and O’Brien certainly can appreciate the “in house” aspect of Johnson’s gripes. O’Brien might not be pleased that his best receiver is perhaps wavering on his commitment to the team, but at least Johnson isn’t airing his dirty laundry very much publicly.
Not when news is leaking through other routes, perhaps from Johnson’s camp, about the situation, which appears to have taken an ominous turn here in the past day.
Here’s the deal: Johnson could retire. It’s been talked about. He turns 33 on Friday. Johnson has had a quietly long career, playing 11 seasons. But he has fought through a few injuries over the years and has been absolutely fantastic the past two seasons, especially in 2013 considering how everything was crumbling around him — especially at quarterback.
The assumption has been to this point that Johnson is frustrated with the fact that Ryan Fitzpatrick is his QB right now. Maybe Tom Savage gets a run at some point, or Case Keenum again. Not that appealing. But what is unquestionably appealing for Johnson is the base salaries of $10 million, $10.5 million and $11 million he’s owed the next three seasons.
There also might be some bonus money at stake, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport is reporting.
Plus, when you consider how the $30,000-a-day potential fines Johnson faces and the limited trade market for his services (with that salary), there are not a lot of options that end with him staying clear of the team for long. If Johnson were to retire, he actually would owe the Texans back money from his bonus — almost $9 million worth — already paid out.
After it appeared that there might be an amiable resolution to this problem at one point, the news that Johnson wants out — whether it’s a power play or not — has taken this story in a bad direction for both sides.
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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports.
photo credit – zimbio.com