As Texans receiver Andre Johnson continues to be sufficiently unhappy with the team to not show up for offseason workouts, the Texans continue to show no inclination to give him what he wants — a new home.
But Johnson remains dug in. With potential fines for skipping mandatory minicamp at only $70,000, it’s a no-brainer he won’t be there; Johnson already has blown a $1 million roster bonus by not attending offseason workouts.
The stakes will get a lot higher come training camp, when Johnson faces fines in the amount of $30,000 along with partial forfeiture of bonus money previously paid. And if he ultimately doesn’t play in 2014, Johnson will pass on a base salary of $10 million.
Unless the Texans decide to trade Johnson, the options become play for Houston or play for no one, retiring from the game (with the option of unretiring a la Carson Palmer if/when he’s finally traded).
While Johnson doesn’t have much leverage, retirement can be a powerful tool. If he convinces the Texans he’ll truly not play if his only option is to play for the Texans, the Texans would be wise to get what they can and move on.
There’s chatter regarding teams potentially clearing cap space to absorb the Johnson contract, and other teams definitely would be interested in the soon-to-be 33-year-old receiver, if he were available.
For now, he’s not. If he keeps not showing up for the Texans he eventually may be, even though they’ve done absolutely nothing to prepare for life without him.
The fact that the Texans didn’t make a post-Andre plan suggests that they badly misread the situation, which first emerged last November when he said “I’m under contract so I have to play my contract out” after getting into a little bit of a verbal squabble with Matt Schaub and leaving the field before the team’s then-latest loss. The team surely assumed that, even if he huffs and puffs, Johnson wouldn’t walk away from $10 million in 2014.
At least for now, he’s doing a very good job of creating the impression that he will.