Could Patriots make push for Andre Johnson?
|05.15.14 at 1:35 pm ET|
The news out of Houston that receiver Andre Johnson has started pushing for a trade has led many Patriots fans to openly speculate about the possibility of New England trying to put together a deal for the former All-Pro receiver.
Given the depth of the relationship between Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Texans coach Bill O’Brien, the two sides would appear to be natural trade partners. That, combined with the fact that New England and Houston have been talking on and off throughout the offseason about a potential deal involving quarterback Ryan Mallett, would naturally spark conversation on the topic. The starting point between the two sides likely would be Mallett and a draft pick (probably a second- or third-round selection) for Johnson.
Johnson is a tremendous talent. The 6-foot-3, 219-pounder has played 11 years in he NFL, all with the Texans, and has 927 career receptions, 12,661 receiving yards and 61 touchdowns. The most impressive thing about those numbers? The fact that he’s had a relatively mediocre (at best) group of quarterbacks throwing him the ball over the course of his career: Matt Schaub, Case Keenum, T.J. Yates, Sage Rosenfels and David Carr. Considering the level of talent on the pre-2012 Texans offense, it’s a remarkable run.
However, when it comes to assembling a trade, the biggest hurdle might be trying to work around Johnson’s sizable contract. According to Rotoworld, Johnson still has $34.5 million remaining on a deal that runs through 2016. For a receiver who is set to turn 33 in July — even one who has been as productive over the last five years as Johnson — that’s a major financial hit. While the Patriots could get some cap relief via the recent indictment of former New England tight end Aaron Hernandez, that might still be too much to handle from a financial perspective.
In addition, a Johnson trade would leave $11.96 million in dead money against Houston’s 2014 cap, according to NFL Media’s Albert Breer. It is worth noting that overthecap.com reports that the Texans would save $3.68 million against the cap if he was dealt before June 1, so if there is going to be a trade, it would be in Houston’s best interest to do something as soon as possible.
Some have drawn an analogy between Johnson and Randy Moss, who was acquired by the Patriots in the spring of 2007 after two sad and sorrowful seasons in Oakland. While Johnson doesn’t necessarily have the reputation as the third rail of the NFL that Moss had over his first decade or so in the league, both have put up great numbers over the course of their career, and both did it with some decidedly average quarterbacks. Sprung from the Raiders, Moss went on to three-plus seasons of great success with New England before being dealt to the Vikings.
However, it is important to note that Johnson is set to turn 33 this summer, while Moss had just turned 30 when the Patriots picked him up. That’s not a colossal age difference, but something that has to be taken into consideration when you are approaching the team-building process for the next few years.
Ultimately, the Patriots should be expected to at least inquire about the possibility of Johnson. But unless the receiver is willing to re-work his contract — or New England is able to move a lot of money around over the next couple of weeks — it seems like a bit of a long shot, at least at this point.