Paying Andre Johnson a classy, no-brainer move for Texans

ST. LOUIS - DECEMBER 20: Andre Johnson #80 of the Houston Texans hauls in a pass against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on December 20, 2009 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Texans beat the Rams 16-13.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Andre Johnson has seen his fair share of down years while playing in Houston over the last seven seasons. But to his credit, he has never once complained publicly about his team or vented his frustrations through the media like so many other players do across all sports.

To show their appreciation for what he’s done for their franchise, the Texans are prepared to make Johnson the highest paid receiver in the NFL according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. Johnson’s new deal will exceed the four-year, $40 million contract that Larry Fitzgerald signed in 2008 and likely come with a hefty signing bonus.

It’s hard to argue that Johnson doesn’t deserve to be the highest paid at his position. In the last two years, he has hauled in 216 passes for 3,144 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also hasn’t missed a game in two years, which is important considering he missed seven contests in 2007 while battling an injury.

But even if he has been deserving of a new deal, the Texans weren’t obligated to give him one. Let’s be clear: they had the leverage here, not Johnson. After signing an eight-year, $60 million contract in March of ’07, he wasn’t set to become a free agent until 2015. If the Texans wanted him to honor his contract, nobody would blame them.

That said, owner Bob McNair realizes what a special player the Texans have in Johnson and want to ensure that he finishes his career in Houston. The new contract is a classy gesture by McNair and a team that is moving in the right direction.

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Andre Johnson reports to OTAs

As expected, Andre Johnson returned to the Texans for OTAs on Thursday, ending his brief contract holdout.

Really, it wasn’t a holdout because the workouts are voluntary. He wanted to make a point that he’s underpaid (which he is) and now he’s ready to go back to work. Johnson is the ultimate professional and wouldn’t do anything to hurt his teammates, so it’s not surprising that he returned to practice after only missing a few days.

That said, the Texans still have a problem on their hands. Johnson is the best receiver in the league and despite the fact that he has five years remaining on his current contract, he’s vastly underpaid given what other wideouts are making around the league. He signed a team-friendly deal in 2007 and it would be wise for the Texans to give him a raise. Maybe they’ll wait until after the season to actually re-work his contract, but Johnson is showing good faith by showing up for workouts and the Texans should repay him by letting him know that they’re working on a new deal.

If they don’t, things could get much uglier in the future.


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Will the Texans be forced to re-work Andre Johnson’s contract?

Wide receiver Andre Johnson skipped the start of the Texans’ organized team activities on Monday because he’s unhappy with his contract. With five years remaining on his current deal, he may have a tough time convincing Houston to up his pay grade.

Although Larry Fitzgerald certainly has a say in the discussion, Johnson is arguably the best receiver in the NFL. Yet his contract isn’t as lucrative as the one the Dolphins just gave Brandon Marshall or even the one the Cowboys signed the under-performing Roy Williams to a couple of years ago. So while he still has five years remaining on his current deal, there’s no question that Johnson is underpaid given his production value in the NFL.

The problem is that he doesn’t have much leverage. If he were to become a free agent at the end of the year, then the Texans would be more pressed to re-work his deal knowing that he could bolt once the season is over. But with five years remaining on his current contract, all he has is the threat of a holdout. Even though he’s their best player, the Texans could essentially say, “All right, you don’t want to play? Then you won’t get paid.”

Either way, this isn’t how the Texans wanted to kick off OTAs and holdouts can get awfully nasty between the team and the player. And if Johnson doesn’t show up for training camp, then the Texans really have a problem.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

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