Andre Johnson has been one of the best players in football since entering the NFL in 2003 as a first round pick from the University of Miami. Throughout his 11-year career, Johnson has dealt with many bad seasons as a member of the Houston Texans, but his patience has worn thin.
Now, Johnson is planning to hold out of mandatory minicamp, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Johnson, who comes into this season with three years and over $46 million remaining on his current contract, is displeased that the Texans did not upgrade the team enough after going 2-14 in 2013.
Houston is still without a legitimate starting quarterback, having jettisoned former starter Matt Schaub and signing veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. In the draft, the Texans decided not to take a quarterback when many were available in the early rounds, instead fortifying the defense with Jadeveon Clowney and others.
Rapoport states that Johnson's frustrations are more about not wanting to deal with another rebuild and less about the quarterback situation, but the two seem intertwined. Without a capable signal-caller, the Texans might have a hard time competing in the AFC South while Andrew Luck is in Indianapolis to lead the Colts.
At 32 years old, Johnson is the all-time Texans leader in almost every recieving category including yards (12,661), touchdowns (61) and receptions (927). Last year, Johnson caught 109 passes for 1,407 yards and five touchdowns despite the poor play of Schaub and Case Keenum.
Over at SB Nation's Battle Red Blog, the possibility of Johnson leaving the only franchise he has known is discussed:
If Andre Johnson wants to leave to get the chance to contend somewhere else, let him do it. He's spent enough time trying in Houston and the team is a quarterback and a year or two away from being a winning team again. Yes, Houston is a worse team without him in 2014 and 2015. Yes, DeAndre Hopkins loses the chance to learn from Johnson and the #Leadership he brings. Yes, it would be gruesome to see him in a different color jersey. Nevertheless, I would rather see Johnson get a shot to catch passes on a possible playoff team than mope on the sideline of a 6-10 one.
When he retires, however, Andre Johnson would still retire as a Texan. He would still be emblazoned in a gold jacket and his bust would read "Andre Johnson, Houston Texans 2003-2013" and no one would be thinking about the two or three years he spent playing somewhere else.
Johnson certainly would not be the first player to hold out either because of a contract dispute or otherwise. Recently, high-profile stars such as Maurice Jones-Drew and Chris Johnson have missed mandatory camp, along with Ed Reed and Darrelle Revis.
Usually, the issue is money and the result is more being paid out. In this case, Johnson appears to be looking for a deal out of Houston. With his sizeable contract and advancing age pitted against his still-awesome production, it will be an interesting situation to keep a tab on.