The word out of the Lone Star State is wide receiver Andre Johnson has still got game.
The Houston Texans can’t keep their seven-time Pro Bowl star because of a $16.1 million salary cap hit, but that doesn’t mean he’s washed up.
And that should means the Indianapolis Colts will give him a serious look. Real serious.
That’s not suggesting the Colts should fork out $10 million per year to sign him, as has been suggested by BleacherReport.com’s Jason Cole, citing an unnamed source who said the Colts were among three teams who would be willing to pay that much for Johnson.
But if Johnson wants to join a Super Bowl contender, in this case the Colts, he needs to accept less money. That’s presuming no team will trade for him — and that would be ludicrous considering his current contract, which will also pays him $14.675 million in 2016.
No, the Texans will ultimately have to release him and save about $10.8 million over the next two years. Then Johnson is free to bargain with any NFL team.
Critics will say he’s not worth $10 million per year after catching 85 passes for 936 yards and three touchdowns last season. I’m not disputing that. But his old University of Miami buddy and offseason workout partner Reggie Wayne played for $6.1 million last season. If the Colts were interested, “Reg” would be on speed dial.
Wayne would tell Johnson the Colts are an ideal landing spot, even if it means No. 87 won’t be back and is forced to retire. Johnson is the Texans’ all-time leader with 1,012 receptions, 13,597 yards and 64 receiving touchdowns in a dozen seasons, but he’s never had an elite quarterback like Andrew Luck throwing him the ball.
My Houston source suggests, at 33 years old, Johnson can still be a solid No. 2 receiver. And it’s not beyond the realm of possibility Johnson could put up No. 1-like numbers. Throw some performance bonuses in that contract to sweeten the deal.
The beauty of the Colts’ situation is they have a No. 1 wide receiver in T.Y. Hilton. Johnson doesn’t have to be the go-to guy every time the team needs a big play. Opponents will have to alternate which guy to double. They can’t double them both.
Yes, the Colts have serious issues to address on defense, and some more tinkering to do on the offensive line. They also need to find a running back. Adding a wide receiver for a lot of money might seem like an unnecessary expenditure given those needs, but there’s no way anyone can convince me Johnson wouldn’t flourish in this offense.
The Colts have about $38 million in cap space. Johnson would mean spending less in free agency on other players, but he’s worth the risk because of the possible reward.
Colts general manager Ryan Grigson has taken chances before. Some have hit, some haven’t, but nobody can say he’s been shy about going for it. He said recently at the NFL Scouting Combine that he will always be aggressive when it comes to improving his team.
If Johnson won’t budge on an asking price, so be it. But when the time comes, the Colts should at least try. And give Wayne a call. He’ll tell them Johnson is worth it.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.