The quiet period in the NFL calendar got a little more interesting today, when Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported that Andre Johnson wants the Texans to trade him, and that there are four teams with interest in making a deal for the wide receiver. Since that story broke, a number of writers have suggested, via Twitter or in columns of their own, that Houston won’t be inclined to move Johnson because a trade would result in nearly $12MM in dead money on the team’s cap.
While I agree that a trade is unlikely, pointing to the potential dead money on Houston’s cap as the primary reason the club would prefer to keep him seems a little off to me. Since it’s after June 1, only $4.64MM of that dead money would count against the team’s cap in 2014, with the remainder ($7.32MM) being applied to 2015’s cap. Those are significant numbers for a player no longer on the roster, but Johnson’s cap hits if he remains a Texan are much higher — $14MM+ this season and $16MM+ in 2015. Trading Johnson would actually open up cap room this year and next for the club. It would just mean that a larger percentage of cap space is being committed to a veteran no longer on the club.
Trading Johnson wouldn’t be the best way for the Texans to manage their cap. But if the team could get a decent asset, such as a future draft pick or two, without taking on a sizable contract in return, there’s no reason why the club shouldn’t explore the possibility, regardless of that dead money. I just don’t think the Texans will get an offer at this point in the NFL year that makes a deal worth their while. We’ll have to wait and see how the situation plays out.
Here’s the latest on the Johnson situation:
- A source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (on Twitter) that Johnson would restructure his contract to help a potential new team get under the salary cap but will not take a pay cut. Meanwhile, Rapoport (on Twitter) sees the Raiders as a possible landing spot if Johnson would greenlight a deal to Oakland since he shares an agent with GM Reggie McKenzie.
- Ben Volin of the Boston Globe (via these Twitter links) throws cold water on the idea that the Patriots can land Johnson in a trade with the Texans. The Pats are currently $6.4MM under the cap, Johnson will earn a $10MM base, and trading Danny Amendola will add $2.25MM to the Pats’ cap. So, unless Johnson agrees to a heavily backloaded new contract, it’s not a likely pairing. The Pats can clear come space by cutting Dan Connolly and extending Devin McCourty and Stephen Gostkowski, but that’s a lot work to do before dealing for Johnson.
- Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk hears a similar story to what Rapoport reported earlier today — after meeting with the Texans‘ new coaching staff and being reassured that the club wasn’t in full rebuild mode, Johnson had been willing to report to OTAs and minicamp this spring in order to receive his $1MM bonus. However, because the bonus hinged on the 32-year-old’s full participation in offseason activities, the Texans turned down that request. If there’s a rational explanation for why the team wasn’t willing to pay that $1MM to mend the fences and allow Johnson to save face, it “has yet to make its way into the eyes and ears of the media,” writes Florio.
- In his full story on Johnson from this morning, Rapoport noted that the wideout feels he has earned a measure of goodwill from the Texans, since he has restructured his contract three times at the team’s behest. That’s part of the reason why he’s upset about the $1MM slight. Of course, as Brian McIntyre points out, none of those three restructures – which saw a total of $18.5MM in salary or roster bonuses converted into signing bonuses – involved pay cuts, so it’s not as if Johnson was making huge sacrifices (Twitter links).
- Florio and NFL.com’s Marc Sessler both ran through a list of potential suitors for Johnson, should the Texans start to seriously explore trades. Predictably, there’s plenty of overlap, with the Browns, Ravens, Patriots, Panthers, and Chiefs showing up in both pieces. Florio also identifies the Falcons, Chargers, and Rams as possibilities, while Sessler names the Seahawks and Jets.