NFL teams should think twice before trading for Andre Johnson


(Associated Press)

It looks like the Houston Texans and Andre Johnson are destined to part ways after recent reports emerged that the Texans are playing hardball with their star receiver.

According to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, the conflict began when Johnson told the coaching staff he had “heard enough from the new staff and coach Bill O’Brien to make him want to show up and join the team,” after missing the first portion of offseason workouts.

The coaching staff reportedly told Johnson to stay home, which in effect, cost Johnson a $1 million bonus.

Rapoport also reported that there are four teams interested in trading for Johnson, but not did not offer specifics. Johnson won’t come cheap. After signing a seven-year, $67.7 million contract in 2010, Johnson is owed a base salary of between $10 and $11 million over the next three seasons. With bonuses, that figure is closer to $15 million per year.

Last season, Johnson ranked seventh in total receiving yards (1,407) and 38th in touchdown (five). Although the yards are impressive given the quarterbacks, Football Outsiders ranks him as the 30th best receiver based on their Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement  (DYAR) metric, which “gives the value of the performance on plays where this WR caught the ball, compared to replacement level, adjusted for situation and opponent and then translated into yardage.”

Johnson appears to be fully recovered from the hamstring injury he suffered in 2011, but even if avoids injury  —and he has been durable for the majority of his career— it would be unusual for his productivity to not tail off with age.

Since the merger, only 26 wide receivers have posted 1,000-yard seasons after their 33rd birthdays. When you look for receivers who more closely physically resemble Johnson (33 or older, weighing 215 pounds), only two — Terrell Owens and Anquan Boldin — produced 1,000 yard seasons. A physical anomaly, Owens had three of those seasons, all with the Dallas Cowboys. Johnson is listed at 230 pounds on his NFL.com player page.

Johnson could still help most teams in the short term, but it would be unwise for general managers to mortgage high draft picks to attain his services.

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