With the Houston Texans coming off a wildly disappointing 2013-14 season, the team's elder statesman has made it abundantly clear that he's unhappy with the current state of affairs with the franchise.
Now, after sitting out OTAs and publicly questioning his future with the team, wide receiver Andre Johnson is reportedly considering sitting out mandatory minicamps.
It's clear that Johnson is unhappy. What isn't clear is what Johnson plans to accomplish with his no-show, other than costing himself money and digging the Texans even deeper into a hole they never thought they'd be in in the first place.
As John McClain of The Houston Chronicle pointed out, the biggest question surrounding the Texans is undoubtedly whether Johnson will attend the mandatory portion of the team's offseason program:
Andre Johnson will be a big story if he doesn't show for the only mandatory part of the offseason program. Backup QB battle big, big here!— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) June 10, 2014
Of course, all the way back in May, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported (via colleague Dan Hanzus) that it was unlikely that Johnson would show. That wasn't long after Johnson made it abundantly clear he was not a happy camper, according to Brian T. Smith of The Chronicle:
I just look at my career. … I’ve only been to the playoffs twice. I think we’ve only had three winning seasons. I don’t think any player wants to experience that. I think over time it can become very frustrating. And this offseason has been very frustrating for me; beginning of the offseason, I should say. That’s just kind of where I’m at right now.
New head coach Bill O'Brien reportedly met with Johnson and cleared the air, but to this point, there's been no sign of the receiver at workouts.
Granted, on some level it's hard to blame Johnson for being frustrated.
The Texans entered last year with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations after winning the AFC South in both 2011 and 2012. After two wins to start the season, everything seemed to be proceeding according to plan.
Those were the last games the Texans won in 2013.
Everything that could go wrong did. Arian Foster and Brian Cushing got hurt. Matt Schaub's career imploded in a flurry of pick-sixes. Head coach Gary Kubiak collapsed on the sideline during a game, recovered and then was fired.
Everything, that is, except Johnson.
Despite quarterback play that ran the gamut from erratic to staggeringly awful, Johnson topped 100 catches and 1,400 receiving yards for the second straight season.
That sort of production, on a 2-14 team, led to more than one on-field outburst from Johnson last year, and it appears that what's happened since has done little to alleviate Johnson's frustration.
But that's where things get murky. After all, what does Johnson want the Texans to do?
One wouldn't think this is about money. Johnson isn't the highest-paid wide receiver in the National Football League, but he isn't exactly hard up for rent money either. According to Spotrac (subscription required), Johnson's average annual salary of $9.7 million ranks ninth among NFL wideouts.
That hefty salary, as McClain points out, is also one of the reasons why a trade just isn't likely:
Johnson has 3 years left on his contract. He's not going anywhere. His base salaries are 6.5, 10.5 and 11.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) May 13, 2014
Fanbases and media types all over the NFL may be clamoring for their teams to make a run at Johnson, but the fact is you need quite a bit of cap space, the status as a contender and the willingness to pony up the assets required to land a seven-time Pro Bowler.
Will Andre Johnson be on the field for the Houston Texans in Week 1?
And then make the deal work.
So, with Johnson's absence unlikely to have an effect on his status with the team, what's the point?
After all, Johnson isn't doing anything to help the Texans' chances of a quick turnaround in 2014 by sitting out. Sure, the Texans might not be a contender in most eyes this season, but they're also better than last year's record indicates.
Ryan Fitzpatrick may not be the long-term (or even short-term) answer at quarterback for the Texans, but Johnson and Fitzpatrick aren't going to build a rapport with Johnson on the couch.
Skipping mandatory minicamp will literally accomplish one thing, and one thing only: fines.
It may not come to that, and even if Johnson skips a few practices, McClain has no doubts the 33-year-old will show up eventually:
If Texans thought Johnson would be a long-term issue, they would have drafted a WR. They didn't. He'll be back, just a matter of when.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) May 13, 2014
At least one teammate made it clear (in the most fantastic way possible) that he hopes it's soon:
The Texans' brass no doubt hopes so, too, because until Andre Johnson makes an appearance at camp, a Texans team already facing plenty of questions this year is left with one more hanging over their heads.
What exactly is the point to all this?
Gary Davenport is an NFL Analyst at Bleacher Report and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Gary on Twitter @IDPManor.