The Houston Texans wide receiver has been frustrated throughout the team's offseason. It came to a head on Thursday when Johnson reportedly told the Texans that he wants to play for another team. However, McClain guaranteed in a recent column that Johnson isn't going anywhere, contrary to rumors.
The trade rumor mill began to churn immediately. Battle Red Blog's Brett Kollman came up with four trade scenarios that make sense for the Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, and Philadelphia Eagles. However, McClain believes the only way that Johnson will not play for the Texans is if he chooses to sit out the season, not because he suits up for another franchise.
McClain's reasons are many, and every one of them make sense. From Johnson's contract (three years, $34.5 million remaining) to the loss of franchise good will, it simply doesn't make sense for the Texans to capitulate to a frustrated veteran player. Johnson is the best player in franchise history, and allowing an upset player to dictate team plans sets a very dangerous precedent.
Not only are the Texans unlikely to flinch in the face of Johnson's frustrations, but McClain believes the wide receiver himself is likely to fold once the season begins and real paychecks are at stake. Despite Johnson's claim that he wasn't sure whether he would play in the season opener against the Redskins, McClain writes:
Let's analyze that unlikely possibility. NFL players earn their base salaries over 17 weeks, beginning the week before the first game of the regular season.
That means if Johnson doesn't report for the regular season, he will give up $588,235 a week.
I just don't see a 33-year-old receiver passing up $588,235 a week. Do you?
Johnson's frustrations have been piling up for some time. Every veteran player for the Texans was likely frustrated after going 2-14 last season, a fall from the top of the AFC South in 2012. Johnson publicly questioned the team's direction in May, speculating that the team was going through another rebuilding process after hiring new head coach Bill O'Brien, and ultimately questioned, "Is this still the place for me?"
"I just look at my career. ... I've only been to the playoffs twice. I think we've only had three winning seasons," said Johnson. "I don't think any player wants to experience that. I think over time it can become very frustrating. And this offseason has been very frustrating for me; beginning of the offseason, I should say. That's just kind of where I'm at right now."
The Texans likely didn't help their case with Johnson in this year's NFL Draft, opting to avoid taking a quarterback until the fourth round when they selected Pittsburgh QB Tom Savage. While it's possible that Savage, Ryan Fitzpatrick, or Case Keenum provides solid play at quarterback, the results do not look promising on paper.
However, McClain believes that Texans fans can count on Johnson coming back, no matter how things play out in the media for now.
And here's a prediction: When he finally reports, probably before the Washington opener, Johnson will work as hard as ever, keep his mouth shut as he always does, learn his new system, have another terrific season, and continue to augment his Hall of Fame résumé.