Andre Johnson

Extra Points: Johnson, Dolphins, Mays, Chiefs

Some assorted notes from around the NFL as we wrap up this Tuesday evening:

  • As expected, the Titans have placed veteran Andre Johnson on the reserve-retired list, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). The wide receiver announced his retirement earlier this week.
  • Dolphins safety Reshad Jones, who was recently ruled out for the rest of the season with a torn rotator cuff, told Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald that he played with the injury for the past two seasons (Twitter link). The reporter notes that the team discussed surgery with Jones about a year ago, but the player opted against it. The 28-year-old estimated that it would take four months to recover from the surgery.
  • Wilson reports (via Twitter) that safety Taylor Mays has had his suspension lifted. The 28-year-old signed with the Bengals this offseason, but he was released after he was disciplined for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Mays made five starts for the Raiders last season, compiling 26 tackles and five passes defended.
  • Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News wouldn’t be surprised if Knile Davis landed back with the Chiefs (Twitter link). The organization placed running back Jamaal Charles on the injured reserve earlier this evening, and they signed Bishop Sankey to compete with Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West. Davis, meanwhile, was cut by the Jets after having been claimed only hours before.

Andre Johnson To Retire

Andre Johnson told his Titans teammates this morning that he plans to retire, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Johnson, 35, won’t finish out his 14th season in the NFL and will instead hang up his cleats, and the Titans have confirmed his decision.Andre Johnson (Vertical)

Johnson, of course, spent the entirety of his career in the AFC South, and will be most remembered for his 12 years with the Texans, during which he was consistently overlooked as one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. With more than 13,000 yards receiving for Houston, he’s the club’s leader in yards by nearly 9,000, and his 64 touchdowns are more than double that of any other Texans receiver. But because Houston was on the fringes of playoff contention for most of Johnson’s career, he isn’t typically mentioned on the short list of the era’s best pass-catchers.

Johnson, however, will have a strong case for Hall of Fame enshrinement as soon as he’s eligible. His 1,062 career receptions places him eighth all-time (just behind Reggie Wayne), while he currently ranks ninth in receiving yards with 14,185. And Johnson was just as exceptional on a rate basis, as his 73.5 yards per game places him ninth in league history.

While Johnson put up tremendous seasons with the Texans, and twice lead the league in yardage, the last two seasons were not kind to him, as he sputtered with two other AFC South clubs. After signing a three-year deal with the Colts prior to 2015, Johnson had the worst year of his career, and was released after only a single campaign in Indianapolis. Johnson then accepted the veteran’s minimum to latch on with Tennessee for 2016, but had received only 22 targets on the year.

Johnson is the second Texans legend to announce his retirement in as many weeks, as running back Arian Foster also called it a career last Monday.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Cowboys, McCown, Titans, Pats

The latest from a few NFL cities as Hall of Fame weekend begins…

  • As was reported Thursday, the backup quarterback-needy Cowboys are reluctant to meet the Browns’ relatively lofty asking price for Josh McCown. It’s possible the two will eventually agree to a deal, though, and with that in mind, the Browns have talked to McCown about a possible trade, per Ed Werder of ESPN.com. Cleveland would prefer to keep McCown, but it hasn’t made the 37-year-old any promises (Twitter link).
  • The Cowboys’ lack of cap space might preclude them from acquiring McCown, notes David Moore of the Dallas Morning News. Giving up a draft pick for McCown, who has a $5MM-plus cap hit each of the next two seasons, would knock the Cowboys’ spending space down to $500K. To soften the financial blow, Dallas could include a member of its roster in a McCown trade, release one or two players it would like to keep, or restructure the quarterback’s deal. None of those are ideal options, as Moore points out, which is why the team is biding its time as it scans for depth under center in the wake of Kellen Moore‘s broken ankle.
  • Wide receiver Andre Johnson‘s two-year deal with the Titans is easy for the team to escape after 2016, reports Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com. The contract includes base salaries of $985K and $2MM, and it features a $500K roster bonus due on the third day of the 2017 league year. Johnson will also have a chance to earn $250K in per-game active bonuses (Twitter links), though his pact with Tennessee doesn’t contain any guaranteed money, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter).
  • The league has suspended Titans safety Marqueston Huff for Week 1 because of a substance abuse violation, Zac Jackson of Pro Football Talk writes. Huff has appeared in 30 of 32 regular-season games and made one start since the Titans selected him in the fourth round of the 2014 draft. Most of Huff’s impact has come on special teams, where he participated in 80.8 percent of the Titans’ snaps in 2015.
  • The Patriots worked out receiver Cobi Hamilton on Thursday, Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald tweets. Hamilton ended up signing with Pittsburgh on Friday.
  • In case you missed it, the Cardinals awarded extensions to franchise linchpins Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald on Friday. The Saints agreed to a deal with four-time Pro Bowl fullback John Kuhn.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Titans To Sign Andre Johnson

1:36pm: It’s a two-year deal for Johnson, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The Colts owed the veteran $2.5MM for this season, but that number will be reduced thanks to the offset language in his previous deal.

11:46am: Andre Johnson is continuing his tour of the AFC South. The veteran wide receiver has agreed to sign with the Titans, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Andre Johnson (vertical)

After spending 12 seasons in Houston, Johnson signed a three-year, $21MM contract with the Colts a year ago, and looked poised to enjoy the benefits of catching balls from Andrew Luck after playing with a cavalcade of mediocre quarterbacks over the years with the Texans. However, Luck missed more than half the season, and Johnson struggled, averaging a career-low 31.4 receiving yards per game. For the season, he had 41 catches for 503 yards and four touchdowns, easily the worst full-season marks of his career. For a player who averaged more than 1,100 receiving yards per season during the first 12 years of his career, earning seven Pro Bowl nods during that time, last year’s drop-off was precipitous.

As shown on Roster Resource, Johnson will join wide receivers Rishard Matthews, Tajae Sharpe, Kendall Wright, Dorial Green-Beckham, Harry Douglas, Justin Hunter, Tre McBride, and Andrew Turzilli (suspended for the first four games of the season) on the 90-man roster.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Titans Host Andre Johnson On Visit

The Titans are hosting Andre Johnson on a visit today, according to John McClain of The Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). Johnson, of course, was released by the rival Colts early on in the offseason. Andre Johnson

After spending 12 seasons in Houston, Johnson signed a three-year, $21MM contract with the Colts a year ago, and looked poised to enjoy the benefits of catching balls from Andrew Luck after playing with a cavalcade of mediocre quarterbacks over the years with the Texans. However, Luck missed more than half the season, and Johnson struggled, averaging a career-low 31.4 receiving yards per game. For the season, he had 41 catches for 503 yards and four touchdowns, easily the worst full-season marks of his career. For a player who averaged more than 1,100 receiving yards per season during the first 12 years of his career, earning seven Pro Bowl nods during that time, last year’s drop-off was precipitous.

As shown on Roster Resource, the Titans currently have wide receivers Rishard Matthews, Tajae Sharpe, Kendall Wright, Dorial Green-Beckham, Harry Douglas, Justin Hunter, Tre McBride, and Andrew Turzilli (suspended for the first four games of the season) on the 90-man roster.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Megatron, NFLPA, Patriots, Raiders

Had the Lions resided in better position within the NFC hierarchy, Calvin Johnson would have been more likely to consider returning. In an admission not unlike the circumstances surrounding Barry Sanders‘ 1999 retirement, Megatron told ESPN’s Michael Smith the Lions’ poor 2015 season and current status didn’t make leaving the game as difficult as it would have if they built on their 2014 playoff season.

If we would’ve been a contender, it would have been harder to let go,” the former three-time All-Pro wide receiver told Smith during an E:60 profile that also delves into the injury issues that led to Johnson stepping away at age 30.

Johnson still amassed 1,214 receiving yards and scored nine touchdowns last year but had to deal with ankle injuries the past two seasons. The potential Hall of Fame wideout also told Smith he’s had “a few” concussions.

The Lions made two playoff berths during Johnson’s nine years, losing in the first round of the 2011 and ’14 NFC brackets. Detroit went 7-9 in ’15, but its 1-7 start effectively dashed any playoff hopes. Johnson retired in March but said in June that while he has no plans to return, such a re-emergence would be with the Lions.

Here’s the latest from around the league.

  • In light of the NBA’s dramatic cap rise generating critiques of the NFLPA’s job during the 2011 lockout, NFL Players Association assistant executive director of external affairs George Atallah attempted to clarify some points to Robert Klemko of TheMMQB.com. The union floated the idea of negotiating the removal of the franchise tag but the owners’ concession demands would have been too high for their liking, Klemko writes. “Our system is designed to protect players as much as we can against a short career,” Atallah said. “So things like a higher minimum salary, injury protection, 89% minimum cap spending, post-career benefits that extend into forever. Our system is designed specifically towards the type of employee we have who is at risk of injury. That’s the best argument against comparing us and any sport; we just have a unique employee base.” While it’s difficult to reconcile Mike Conley making more than any NFL player at five years and $153MM fully guaranteed, Atallah pointed out the 53-to-15 roster imbalance between the leagues while emphasizing that the latest CBA stood to reward second- and third-tier players — i.e. Malik Jackson or Olivier Vernon — amid the franchise tag’s continued constraints.
  • It’s been six weeks since the Tom Brady and the NFLPA appealed the federal court ruling that reinstated the Patriots quarterback’s four-game suspension, and despite the second circuit failing to rule in the three- to six-week span expected, Michael McCann of SI.com anticipates Brady’s ban remaining in place. “The most likely verdict is the second circuit will not grant a re-hearing,” McCann said, via WEEI.com. “The second circuit grants re-hearings at less than 1% of the time. The odds are certainly not good for Brady.”
  • Andre Johnson remains interested in continuing his career, posting a video of a recent workout (via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle). The Colts released Johnson after one season in March, and we’ve heard nothing connecting the soon-to-be 35-year-old receiver to any teams at this point. PFR’s Dallas Robinson rated Johnson among his top-10 offensive free agents still available.
  • Although the Raiders ended up with both Khalil Mack and Derek Carr in the 2014 draft, Mark Davis pushed the front office to select Carr with the No. 5 overall pick that became Mack, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk recalls. Carr ended up going at No. 36, with Reggie McKenzie and Co.’s decision allowing them to land one of the game’s best players in Mack.

Best Available NFL Free Agents: Offense

The most high-profile free agent signings occurred more than two months ago, but as we near June there are still talented NFL free agents available on the open market. Most of these players (with a few exceptions) won’t command much guaranteed money, and given that we’ve passed the May 12 deadline, none will factor into the compensatory draft pick formula. Let’s take a look at the players who will try to find a home as training camp approaches:"<strong

1. Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB: The most obvious destination for Fitzpatrick remains the Jets, who don’t intend to play second-round pick Christian Hackenberg immediately but, as of the draft, hadn’t had meaningful talks with Fitz’s camp in awhile. The 33-year-old Fitzpatrick has apparently told people he’d “rather not play football” in 2016 than accept New York’s current offer, though that seems like a negotiating ploy to get the Jets to put more than $7-8MM on the table. Gang Green holds all the leverage in this scenario, as the only other club that might have still been searching for a quarterback — the Broncos — is thought to have ended their hunt for another signal-caller after drafting Paxton Lynch last month.

2. Anquan Boldin, WR: Even as he ages, Boldin continues to post solid production — he’s managed at least 65 receptions in each of the past four years, averaging nearly 1,000 yards and five touchdowns during that time. And while the 49ers have not asked him to return in 2016, Boldin could be an option for a number of wide receiver-needy teams, as the Bengals, Steelers, Colts, Chiefs, and Giants could all make varying levels of sense for the veteran pass-catcher, especially given that he’s indicated he’d prefer to play for a contender. Boldin has taken just one free agent visit this offseason, but that team — Washington — is unlikely to still have interest given that it selected TCU wideout Josh Doctson in the first round of the draft.

3. Arian Foster, RB: There’s no question that Foster offers the highest upside of any free agent on this list, as he’s topped 1,200 yards rushing in every season that he’s remained even remotely healthy. But health, of course, has remained a hindrance throughout Foster’s career — in 2015 alone, Foster was slowed by a groin injury during camp before suffering a torn Achilles in in Week 7. The Dolphins met with Foster earlier this offseason and could still be a landing spot, while the Raiders, Eagles, and Chargers (especially if Melvin Gordon‘s recovery from microfracture surgery doesn’t go well) could be options.

4. Jahri Evans, G: Knee and ankle injuries limited Evans to 11 games in 2015, but like Foster, Evans is a solid contributor when he’s on the field, as he graded as the league’s No. 27 guard among 81 qualifiers last year, per Pro Football Focus. Entering his age-33 season, Evans might have to be willing to engage in a camp battle for a starting role, or even wait until a club suffers an injury along its offensive interior. But a team like the Broncos, who are currently projected to start sixth-round rookie Connor McGovern at right guard, could express interest.

5. Louis Vasquez, G: Vasquez isn’t quite the guard that Evans is, but he offers a vast amount of experience, as he played over 1,000 snaps in 2015 with Denver, and has started 101 games since entering the league in 2009. Not yet 30 years old, Vasquez could help a number of clubs at either guard position — he met with the Titans earlier this offseason, and depending on its assessment of Jeremiah Poutasi, Tennessee may still be interested. The Chiefs, having failed to replace Jeff Allen, could also make sense as a destination."<strong

6. Andre Johnson, WR: After posting the worst full-season results of his career, Johnson was released by the Colts just one season into a three-year pact. Whether interested clubs will determine that Johnson was victimized by a lackluster 2015 Indianapolis (and largely Andrew Luck-less) offense — or instead conclude that Johnson is just about finished at age-34 — is an open question, but the 13-year veteran has indicated that he’d like to continue playing in 2016.

7. Will Beatty, T: Beatty is expected to be fully healthy this summer after missing the entire 2015 season with a torn pectoral muscle, but he reportedly won’t be returning to the Giants. It’s a little surprising that Beatty hasn’t yet found a home for 2016, but he shouldn’t have to wait much longer, as he’s clearly the best tackle available on the open market (his top competition is the likes of Jake Long and Mike Adams). I could see the Bears bringing in Beatty to compete with Charles Leno on the blindside, while the Cardinals could also be a feasible landing spot if they aren’t happy with D.J. Humphries — who didn’t play a single snap as a rookie — at right tackle.

8. James Jones, WR: Another season catching passes from Aaron Rodgers, another successful year for Jones, who returned to Green Bay after a year in Oakland to post 50 receptions for nearly 900 yards an eight touchdowns. Jones, now 32, has indicated that he’d like to play for awhile longer, though the Packers have reportedly moved on. After waiting until July of last year to sign with the Giants (and September to reunite with the Pack), Jones could again have to wait awhile to find a new team, but whoever signs him will be acquiring a big-play threat — in 2015, Jones ranked fourth in the league with 17.8 yards per reception.

9. Ryan Wendell, C/G: Perhaps the least recognizable name on this list, Wendell spent the last seven seasons as a utility interior lineman with the Patriots, and ended up starting 44 contests from 2012-2014. A knee injury prematurely ended Wendell’s 2015 season in November, and a March report stated that Wendell would wait until he returned to full health before signing with a new team. A return to New England can’t be ruled out, but a club like the Cardinals — who are currently projecting A.Q. Shipley to start at center — could also be on Wendell’s radar.

10. Owen Daniels, TE: Daniels has spent all ten of his NFL seasons under the tutelage of Gary Kubiak, following the coach from Houston to Baltimore and, finally, to Denver. That streak of loyalty is now in danger after the Broncos released Daniels earlier this year, though Kubiak did not rule out re-signing the veteran tight end (Denver has since signed fellow TE Garrett Graham, however). Even at age-33, Daniels performed in line with his career averages, posting 48 receptions for more than 500 yards and four touchdowns.

Honorable mention: Tarvaris Jackson, QB; Joique Bell, RB; Bryce Brown, RB; Marques Colston, WR; Brian Hartline, WR; Roddy White, WR; Khaled Holmes, C; Amini Silatolu, G.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts Release Andre Johnson

MARCH 9: The Colts announced that they’ve released Johnson.

MARCH 4: To no one’s surprise, the Colts have told wide receiver Andre Johnson that they will be releasing him, tweets Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. A February report had suggested that Johnson had played his last down in Indianapolis.Andre Johnson

[RELATED: PFR previews the Colts’ offseason]

After spending 12 seasons in Houston, Johnson signed a three-year, $21MM contract with the Colts a year ago, and looked poised to enjoy the benefits of catching balls from Andrew Luck after playing with a cavalcade of mediocre quarterbacks over the years with the Texans. However, Luck missed more than half the season, and Johnson struggled, averaging a career-low 31.4 receiving yards per game. For the season, he had 41 catches for 503 yards and four touchdowns, easily the worst full-season marks of his career.

Given how weak this year’s free agent market for wide receivers is, Johnson would likely receive interest from a handful of teams when he officially becomes available. But for a player who averaged more than 1,100 receiving yards per season during the first 12 years of his career, earning seven Pro Bowl nods during that time, last year’s drop-off was precipitous.

Nonetheless, agent Kennard McGuire recently indicated that his client isn’t contemplating retirement, telling Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link) that Johnson doesn’t intend to call it a career anytime soon. “Retirement hasn’t been discussed,” McGuire said. “Andre is training and preparing for next season.”

Half of Johnson’s $5MM base salary for 2016 is fully guaranteed, so releasing the veteran wideout will leave $2.5MM in dead money on the Colts’ books. However, the club will clear the other half of that salary and will avoid paying Johnson a $2.5MM roster bonus, creating $5MM in overall cap savings for the coming season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Andre Johnson Preparing To Play In 2016

8:50am: Johnson’s agent, Kennard McGuire, tells Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link) that his client doesn’t intend to call it a career anytime soon. “Retirement hasn’t been discussed,” McGuire said. “Andre is training and preparing for next season.”

8:01am: Calvin Johnson isn’t the only longtime star receiver who is contemplating retirement this offseason, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, who tweets that Andre Johnson also “has a decision” to make. Rapoport adds that Johnson has played his last down in Indianapolis, suggesting that the Colts plan to move on from him this winter even if he continues his career.Andre Johnson

[RELATED: Pro Football Rumors previews the Colts’ offseason]

After spending 12 seasons in Houston, Johnson signed a three-year contract with the Colts a year ago, and looked poised to enjoy the benefits of catching balls from Andrew Luck after playing with a cavalcade of mediocre quarterbacks over the years with the Texans. However, Luck missed more than half the season, and Johnson struggled, averaging a career-low 31.4 receiving yards per game. For the season, he had 41 catches for 503 yards and four touchdowns, easily the worst full-season marks of his career.

Rapoport’s suggestion that Indianapolis is expected to release Johnson comes as no real surprise, since it seemed unlikely the club would want to keep his $7.5MM cap hit on the books after such an underwhelming 2015 campaign. If they cut him, the Colts could reduce Johnson’s cap hit by $5MM, leaving just $2.5MM in dead money on their cap.

Given how weak this year’s free agent market for wide receivers is, Johnson would likely receive interest from a handful of teams if he were to become available. But for a player who averaged more than 1,100 receiving yards per season during the first 12 years of his career, earning seven Pro Bowl nods during that time, last year’s drop-off was precipitous, so the 34-year-old will first need to determine whether he wants to keep playing. Based on Rapoport’s report, it sounds like that decision has yet to be made.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Andre Johnson Had Interest In Dolphins

When Andre Johnson was released by the Texans back in March, it didn’t take him long to find a new home in the AFC South. After receiving some interest from the Chargers, Eagles, and a handful of other clubs, the veteran wideout signed with the Colts, joining former Miami Hurricanes teammate Frank Gore in Indianapolis.

While he’s happy to be a Colt, Johnson admitted that, after having played his high school and college ball in Miami, playing for the Dolphins “was something [he] thought about,” writes Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.

“I always had a dream of playing at home. I was a huge Dolphins fan,” Johnson said. “But they never called.”

The Dolphins revamped their wide receiving corps this offseason, jettisoning Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, and Brandon Gibson, while bringing aboard Kenny Stills, Greg Jennings, and first-round draft pick DeVante Parker.

While Johnson could’ve potentially filled the role occupied by Jennings, Miami seemed to be targeting younger, cheaper players for its top roles, while Jennings is expected to be a complementary piece — at two years and $8MM, Jennings was a more affordable veteran addition than Johnson (three years, $21MM) would have been.