The Houston Texans released veteran wide receiver Andre Johnson on March 9.
The Houston Texans have released veteran wide receiver Andre Johnson.
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According to a March 9 press release on the Texans' official website, Houston executive vice president of football operations and general manager Rick Smith said the team tried its best to trade Johnson, but was unsuccessful. This left the Texans no choice but to release Johnson, per Smith:
"After exhausting all options of a possible trade, we informed Andre Johnson that he would be released today. No player in the history of this franchise has represented the team, city and community in a more professional way. Andre is a Hall of Fame-caliber player and we appreciate his years of service and contributions to our team."
For his part, head coach Bill O'Brien told HoustonTexans.com he has utmost respect for Johnson:
"I have so much respect for Andre Johnson and what he's meant to this organization. Andre carried himself as a true professional and did everything that we asked him to do. Andre will go down as one of the best receivers to ever play this game. We are thankful for what he has done for our organization and wish him well on his future playing career."
The Texans "previously had given Johnson permission to seek a trade," per ESPN. He still had two years left on his contract and would have counted $16.1 million against the salary cap next season. By releasing him before June 1, Houston saves $8.825 million in cap space.
Johnson was at the forefront of the Texans' offense during his first 12 seasons in Houston. However, his role in 2015 "was set to change," per ESPN.
He told ESPN's Josina Anderson before his release he wasn't worried about it. He quipped,"It's just the nature of the business. I'm not really worried about it. I will go somewhere else and play, and hopefully I can do well for them."
Marc Vandermeer of the Texans' official website paid tribute to Johnson on the day of his release:
"The great ones make the extraordinary look effortless. That's Andre Johnson. Smooth yet explosive. At times it almost looked as if he were jogging, yet he's running by defenders, getting wide open.
"He'll go down in history as one of the greatest athletes to ever play in this city. The era ends and the team moves on. The memories will last forever as we express gratitude for so many incredible moments.
"And for the consistency. Showing up every Sunday, making plays, putting smiles on faces and making us proud to be Texans."
USA Today Sports' Jim Corbett identifies the Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Ravens as Johnson's next potential destination. The Eagles have a void at wide receiver with Jeremy Maclin agreeing to terms with the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. He rejoins his former head coach with the Eagles, Andy Reid.
As for the Ravens, wide receiver Torrey Smith recently announced he will not re-sign with the team. Smith could end up reunited with his former Baltimore teammate, Anquin Boldin, with the San Francisco 49ers. Corbett also stresses the Seattle Seahawks could also be on the lookout for a veteran wide receiver.
Johnson's production dipped in 2014 as DeAndre Hopkins became a larger focal point in the Texans' offense in 2014. While Hopkins had 76 receptions for 1,210 yards, Johnson had 85 receptions for 936 yards, per ESPN.
It was the first time in three seasons Johnson failed to crack the 1,000-yard receiving mark. He recorded 1,598 yards and 1,407 yards in the 2012 and 2013 NFL seasons, respectively, per ESPN stats. He caught for at least 1,142 yards in seven of his 12 seasons with the Texans.
Johnson, drafted third overall in the 2003 NFL draft out of Miami, amassed a total of 13,597 yards and 64 touchdowns on 1,012 receptions for the Texans, per ESPN stats.
The Elias Sports Bureau (via ESPN) lists Johnson as one of just four players who played for just one NFL team and had at least 1,000 career receptions. The other three are the Indianapolis Colts' Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne and the Pittsburgh Steelers' Hines Ward.
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