Corbin Smith

Could Seahawks Emerge As Unlikely Suitor For Andre Johnson?

Created on Jul. 10, 2014 11:20 PM EST

When news broke this spring that Houston Texans star Andre Johnson was unsure about wanting to remain with the team, the organization quickly stymied those rumors, publicly stating that the standout receiver would be a Texan for the 2014 season.

Reports of Johnson’s unhappiness died down to a mere whisper in previous weeks, but after the Texans 
refused his proposal to do extra workouts to recoup a $1 million roster bonus last week, he told team officials that he wanted to play for another team. With a new head coach in Bill O’Brien and further instability at quarterback with journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, it’s understandable why Johnson would want to move on. After all, why would a perennial All-Pro talent want to stay on-board to endure a long rebuilding process?

He’s been the face of the Texans for over a decade, but with his 33rd birthday coming on Friday, Johnson knows he is quickly entering the twilight of his career. Until the franchise finally had a breakthrough in 2011 and made the postseason for the first time, he made spectacular highlight-reel plays for mediocre teams that underachieved on a yearly basis. Many experts felt it was only a matter of time until he demanded a trade, but he instead continued to make sacrifices with hopes that he could carry Houston to postseason football.

He re-structured his contract three times to stay with the organization through all the turmoil, but now with the tables turned and him asking for the Texans to show the same respect by paying him a relatively small offseason bonus, the front office has turned the other cheek. Very few players have done so much in an effort to help a down-trodden franchise find success, and he deserves the opportunity to play elsewhere and compete for a championship before hanging up his cleats.

It remains to be seen if the Texans will have a change of heart and decide to shop the disgruntled veteran, but if they do decide to make him available, one has to wonder if the defending Super champion 
Seattle Seahawks would pick up the phone and consider making an offer for the seven-time Pro Bowler.

As NFL Network “Around the League” columnist Marc Sessler 
writes, the Seahawks could be interested in his services because the team has “never been afraid to swing the fences” and always seem to at least investigate potential deals for premier players. Seattle was widely rumored as a sleeper to sign DeSean Jackson after the Philadelphia Eagles released him, but later reports indicated that the team never seriously considered pursuing him. General manager John Schneider likes to keep his options open, and Johnson would provide the Seahawks with the big, physical receiver that the offense currently lacks as a compliment to Percy Harvin and Doug Baldwin.

While Russell Wilson would no-doubt enjoy the chance to throw to Johnson, there are several obstacles that make a deal happening between Seattle and Houston highly unlikely and impractical. For one, Johnson still has three years remaining on his current contract worth $34.5 million, and as NFL Network’s Albert Breer tweeted, the Texans would have to eat $11.96 million in dead cap space if they traded him. As for Johnson’s new team, they would be forced to absorb the remainder of his hefty contract as he exits his prime unless the receiver was willing to re-structure once again.

The Seahawks still have one of the youngest teams in the National Football League and have invested a great deal of money to lock up All-Pro safety Earl Thomas, All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, and the ever-reliable receiver Baldwin this summer. Wilson will be seeking a lucrative extension next offseason, and several other key players like Bobby WagnerK.J. Wright, and Byron Maxwell will be seeking new deals in the near future as well. Cap space will be at a premium for Seattle to maintain as many of its own players as possible to remain a viable contender long-term, and opting to take on Johnson’s massive contract would be a bad business decision for the future.

From a fit standpoint, Johnson still remains an elite target and he would be well-worth the financial burden for several other teams. In the past two seasons, he has hauled in 221 receptions, making him the second-most productive receiver in the league during that span. Even with quarterback issues throughout the 2013 season causing the Texans to crash toward a two win campaign, he still recorded 1,407 receiving yards and show no signs of slowing down. From a talent standpoint, he would easily be the best receiver on the Seahawks roster, but trading for him would be a luxury move at best.

Seattle sits at just a hair above $7 million in available cap space right now, and that number will dwindle as players like Wilson, Wagner, and others negotiate for new deals in 2015. There's always the chance in situations like these that the player becomes frustrated enough with his current surroundings that he will take a dramatic pay cut to join a title contender. While that type of scenario can't be ruled it out, a player with Johnson's pedigree most likely will aim to work a trade without giving away well-earned money.

As exciting as it would be to witness Johnson torching opposing defenses across from Harvin, the front office has assembled a strong stable of receivers and bringing his talents to the Pacific Northwest would be the kind of desperation move that shortens championship windows in the long run.
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