Dec 28, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson (80) on the sideline during the fourth quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at NRG Stadium. The Texans defeated the Jaguars 23-17. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
With Torrey Smith likely on his way out of Baltimore, it’s no surprise that the Ravens are being linked to virtually every free agent and draft eligible wide receiver. The team has a aging Steve Smith and not much else behind him in the way of a number one guy. One player that has been a true number one wide receiver for many years in the NFL is also one that might just be hitting the free agent market very soon, according to John McClain at the Houston Chronicle.
The initial rumor gained a ton of traction after Johnson himself spoke with the Chronicle, revealing the details of what transpired between his meeting with coach Bill O’Brien after he was told that his role would be significantly reduced in 2015.
"“I just laughed,” Johnson said. “They gave me my role, and I just laughed at them. How do you tell a guy who is used to catching 80 balls a year that he was going to catch 40?”"
O’Brien even went so far as to tell Johnson he might not even be a starter next season, which is pretty amazing considering the team has essentially no other good receivers outside of DeAndre Hopkins.
"“I was floored,” Johnson said. “I don’t feel like there is a guy on that team that can outplay me or outwork me. I mean, who am I going to play behind?“So I was real honest with him: ‘If that’s your role for me, you’re going to be dealing with a miserable football player.’ ”"
I’m not going to sit here and blow smoke telling you that the soon to be 34 year old Andre Johnson is the elite wide receiver he once was, but I doubt he is washed up. Catching passes from a rotating group of career backups and unproven quarterbacks last season, he still managed 85 receptions for 936 yards and 3 touchdowns. And that was while playing second fiddle to Hopkins, who broke out for 1,210 yards and 6 TD’s.
Andre Johnson has the body type that the Ravens sorely lack at 6’3″ and 230 pounds. He may not possess the speed that he once had, but he can still win matchups and contested passes. And due a salary of $10.5 million in 2015, it’s highly unlikely that any team will trade for him. That means the Ravens might actually stand a chance, especially since they are a competitive team that would give Johnson a shot at a ring before he retires.
The Ravens have also had good luck with wide receivers in the twilight of their careers, a la Steve Smith, Anquan Boldin, and Derek Mason. They won’t be able to get in a bidding war with a team like the Colts or the Seahawks (both of whom possess a good amount of cap space), but they would at least be in the running. If nothing else, an Andre Johnson to Baltimore Ravens matchup would be a great short term fix as the team continues to search for it’s feature receiver of the future.
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