Houston Texans’ Andre Johnson Is Far From The First To Move On


In today’s age of free agency, it is rare for a player to stay with one NFL franchise for the duration of his career. It appears that trend will continue with Houston Texans veteran receiver Andre Johnson.

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Multiple media reports are saying that Johnson will apparently seek a trade and if no deal can be reached, the Texans all-time leading receiver will be released. Johnson is far and away the most decorated wide out in franchise history. Since being drafted third overall by the Texans in 2003, he has amassed 1,012 receptions, 13,597 receiving yards and 64 touchdowns and played in 169 games.

In 2014, Johnson played in 15 games and his 85 receptions led the team. However, his receiving yard tally of 936 fell short of fellow Houston starting receiver DeAndre Hopkins and was the fewest in his 12 year career.

At the age of 33, Johnson isn’t ready to hang up his cleats and the Texans are apparently not inclined to pay their long-standing star wideout the $8.82 million they would owe him in cap space.

Loyalty isn’t what it used to be in the NFL…and it’s been this way for a long time.

There is a long list of players who have turned to other teams besides the ones that they made they mark with to finish out their careers. Most recent, of course, is quarterback Peyton Manning, who was cut loose by the Indianapolis Colts following the 2011 season after being the face of that franchise since he was chosen as the first overall pick out of the 1998 draft. Manning found a new home with the Denver Broncos and promptly took his new team to Super Bowl XLVIII.

He followed in the footsteps of NFL greats like Joe Montana, who finished out his illustrious career with the Kansas City Chiefs after bringing four Super Bowl championships to the Bay area. The NFL’s all-time rushing champion Emmitt Smith also opted for a move to the desert to play for the Arizona Cardinals after three Super Bowl rings and 12 seasons with Dallas.

Although free agency as we now know it started in 1992, the seeds were sewn many years before. In 1947  the ancestor to free agency was enacted to replace the standard that allowed NFL teams to sign players to the same contract over and over again. After San Francisco 49er R.C. Owens dared to buck the system by leaving for the Baltimore Ravens in 1962, then-commissioner Pet Rozelle decided that teams losing a player in such a manner deserved compensation.

What was known as the “Rozelle Rule” allowed the commissioner to pay back teams who lost a player to another squad with funds or draft picks from the team the player in question signed with. What was essentially a trade in disguise, was overruled in 1976 in favor of what became known as “Plan B” free agency. That measure gave teams the ability to secure the top 37 players on their roster with first refusal rights and was the precursor to restricted free agency, which has now morphed into the system that is in place today.

All the politics and posturing that has led to the NFL of today boils down to the fact that investing in a jersey with a player’s name emblazoned on the back has become a risky business. It is also a reminder that the NFL has become exactly that…strictly business.

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