4:57pm: Johnson didn’t take much of a pay cut. He was due to make $10.5MM this year with the Texans and his new deal with the Colts will give him $10MM fully guaranteed, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk tweets.
Johnson, who is entering his age-34 season, caught a team-high 85 balls in 2014, but that was his lowest total for a full season in about a decade. The former third overall pick also averaged just 62.4 yards per game, the third-lowest mark of his 12-year career. Houston reportedly asked Johnson to accept a reduced role in the offense going forward, which prompted discussion of a trade. Ultimately, the Texans could not find a taker for him and his contract, leading to his formal release on Monday.
Johnson was talking with fellow veteran Frank Gore about joining up with the Eagles, but when Gore backed out of his agreement with Philly to presumably sign with the Colts, their attention shifted to Indianapolis. Now, star quarterback Andrew Luck’s offense will be souped up in 2015 with the additions of two high-profile veterans.
The Chargers were among the teams working hard to lure Johnson and set up his next meeting, but the Colts managed to sign him before he could meet with anyone else, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com tweets.
Any team acquiring Johnson via trade from the Texans would have been responsible for his $10.5MM base salary and $1MM roster bonus on top of giving up assets, so it wasn’t a surprise to see him released instead. Houston created $8.825MM in cap savings by releasing Johnson, even without designating him as a post-June 1 cut.
Even though he appeared to lose a step in 2014, Johnson still graded out as an above-average wide receiver according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). All in all, he finished No. 40 out of 110 qualified wide receivers.