The 13th-year pro appreciated his teammate, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, landing a five-year, $65-million extension Thursday.
“Yeah, very deserving. Very happy for him. I know he’s very excited,” Johnson said. “When you’re going through a situation like that, you want to get that situation over with as soon as possible so you can just focus on football. To have it happen right now before the season starts and everything, I know he’s happy about that. So he doesn’t have to worry about that anymore. Now he can just focus on football and do what he needs to do for the team.”
Johnson, 34, never thought he would play for another team than the Houston Texans. But the offseason reminded him of how the NFL is a business. The Texans’ all-time receiving leader was released, then signed with the Colts.
“I’m pretty sure T.Y. enjoys being here,” Johnson said. “This is the team that drafted him and this is where he wants to be. Like I said, I know he’s excited and I’m very happy for him. He’s well deserving of it and I’m sure he’ll continue to do the great things that he’s been doing.”
The Colts traded up in the third round to select Hilton in the 2012 NFL draft. He’s been the team’s No. 1 wide receiver each of the past two seasons and just made his first Pro Bowl in February.
Quarterback Andrew Luck released a statement through the team later in the day.
“I feel like I have a great rapport with T.Y. and all of the guys in that draft class,” said Luck, who was drafted No. 1 overall in 2012. “I think it’s special when you can play with guys in your class and do good things, hopefully great things.
“So I’m super excited for him. Well-deserved. He’s a great teammate, great guy, happy for him, happy for his family, proud of him. It’s great that he’s a Colt for many years to come.”
Wide receiver Donte Moncrief, who is entering his second NFL season, has learned a lot from Hilton. He noticed a difference in the team’s No. 1 wide receiver entering offseason training activities.
“Starting in the offseason, I have just been closer to him than I’ve ever been,” Moncrief said of Hilton, who is in his fourth year. “Just watching the way he works, conditioning during the offseason, to how he comes into work early and stays late to watch film, just watching that now, he’s paving the way for me to let me know what it takes to get there.”
Moncrief said Hilton never expressed any concern about if he would receive a new contract from the Colts.
“No, he really wasn’t even worried about it,” Moncrief said. “He knows what he has to do. He’s just going to keep making plays and being the same guy. He’s not the type of guy to just sit down and worry about that. He’s a team player, he’s a playmaker and he’s showing it.”
Head coach Chuck Pagano said it was a positive day for the organization and Hilton.
“Really happy for T.Y. and his family,” Pagano said. “It’s well deserved. Any time you’re productive, you’re a great teammate, do the right thing on the field, off the field, this is what should happen. Again, I know our fans are excited. Organization is excited. This team is excited, and I know T.Y. is excited. This is where he wants to be. It’s a great thing for him. He earned it.”
Because Luck is set to land a lucrative contract either next offseason or at some point during the 2016 season, the Colts have ensured their three-time Pro Bowl passer will have his favorite target for a long time.
“It’s continuity. It’s stability,” Pagano said. “Guys coming in and out of the door, we know it’s the nature of the beast and how the National Football League is. So anytime you can get guys locked up and keep that continuity and that chemistry, it’s a great thing.”
The Colts have seen how Hilton sets an example by his performance and work ethic.
“He’s not the most talkative guy in the world,” Pagano said. “He’s a quiet guy, but he leads by example. We challenged him and asked to become that guy. I think as guys go through the process and they gain experience, they become better leaders off the field and more comfortable with the scheme.
“Reggie (Wayne) had so many years in, and he had to learn a new scheme once B.A. (Bruce Arians) came here in year two and then a new one with Pep (Hamilton) in the last two years. (Hilton is) doing a better job of that. You see the communication in the meeting room. You see it on the sideline. You see him talking to young guys. Not only is he becoming a much better player every day on the field, he’s doing those things for our young guys in the classroom.”
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.