Andre Johnson has heated exchange with Schaub, seems unhappy in Houston
Johnson was targeted on a game-deciding throw from Matt Schaub with 1:15 remaining in the game. The Texans trailed the Oakland Raiders 28-23 with the ball just eight yards from the end zone. The throw to Johnson, however, was nearly intercepted and fell to the ground, locking up an eighth consecutive loss for the Texans.
After the play, Johnson had some heated words for Schaub, who was inserted in the third quarter for Case Keenum, who took the starting job from Schaub about a month ago. After the exchange, Johnson headed to the locker room by himself while the rest of his team watched the Raiders kneel the ball to run out the clock.
After the game, the media obviously asked Johnson about what happened. "I messed up, I'll leave it at that," Johnson said. Perhaps the classiest receiver in football, it is no surprise that Johnson took the blame for the failure on a do-or-die play, but what stood out was what he said in response to a question regarding whether or not he is happy playing for the Texans. "I'm under contract, so I have to play my contract out," he said. "I can't do anything about that."
That quote pretty much tells you about how Johnson feels playing for another struggling Texans team - unhappy. Johnson went through the first eight seasons of his career enjoying just one winning season, but he never once complained, nor did he even attempt to reach free agency. After two winning seasons in which they were eliminated in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, the Texans are once again one of the bottom-barrel teams in the NFL, as far as their record. Johnson is 32 years old, so he can not endure another eight seasons without making the playoffs.
When asked about a possible trade, Johnson simply said, "I never asked for a trade. Did you hear anything about that?" The fact that he did not say that he does not plan to ask for a trade is notable. However, Johnson is probably too noble to ask for a trade, and if he did ask out of Houston, he surely would not make it public until his trade or release was finalized.
The final quote from Johnson is yet another notable one in which the Pro Bowl pass catcher sidesteps whether or not he is happy in Houston. "I've always said this is where I wanted to be, so I don't really have anything to say about that. I still have an ongoing contract." Note the use of the past tense - at no point during Johnson's post-game interview did the star receiver say that Houston is where he wants to be right now. The fact that someone so honorable and unselfish would not clearly state that he is happy in his current situation suggests that he is not happy at all.
Unfortunately for Johnson, his contract has him in Houston through the 2016 season. He is scheduled to make $6.5 million next year, $10.5 million in 2015, and $11 million in 2016 - the Texans are getting a great value for such a sensational player. If Johnson waits until free agency to find a new team, he won't be in a different uniform until he is 36 years old, and there is no telling whether or not he will be nearly the same difference-maker that he is now.
Despite the quarterback carousel and horrible record, Johnson is still enjoying a great season with 72 catches for 966 yards and five touchdowns - this has nothing to do with personal performance, how many targets he is getting, or anything else that will get your typical wide receiver unhappy. This is simply about how the Texans look like they may enter another rebuilding phase, and how Johnson is finding it hard to embrace more losing seasons.
With Johnson having displayed nothing but class throughout his career and being so affordable over the next three seasons, it's really tough to see him leaving Houston before 2017. However, if the Texans want to help out a player who has brought nothing but positivity to their team for more than ten years, they could sit down with Johnson over the offseason and start trying to figure out a team to trade him to. Unfortunately, there is almost no chance that the Texans would bring back equal value, but it would really be great to see the future Hall of Fame receiver play for a contender during his final years in the NFL.