Now that Bill O'Brien has officially named a starting quarterback, the biggest and most intriguing question remaining surrounding the Texans is when Andre Johnson decides to return to the team and begin practicing.
Johnson's holdout—for lack of a better term—is a bit of a mystery because he hasn't specifically said what the issue is keeping him from practicing with his teammates. Just that he's not sure if this "is the place for him" still.
Is it the cumulative impact of all the losing seasons? Is it over money? Does he not want to go through another rebuilding process or not get along with the new coaching staff?
It doesn't have anything to do with not liking the new coaching staff from all reports because O'Brien has said they text and talk often.
Johnson mentioned going through another rebuilding process, and I understand a player at his age not wanting to deal with that, but I don't think that's the core issue. If his decision was only about winning and not believing the Texans could bounce back quickly, then I think he would have already asked for a trade, which he has not done.
Like most things in sports, this situation is about money in my opinion.
Unlike the last time Johnson was unhappy with his contract in 2010, I don't think the total dollar amount is the main issue. Johnson has to know that his contract and the money the team could save by letting him go will make him a prime candidate to be cut next season; this situation is about contract security in my opinion.
According to OverTheCap.com, the Texans could save about $20 million in base salary by cutting Johnson after the 2014 season. Depending on his performance, health or where the team is with their rebuilding process, cutting Johnson could make sense.
Johnson has to know if he does get cut, he's unlikely at his age to receive a contract equal to or even close to what he has now from a new team. My guess is if the Texans are willing to guarantee more of his contract, that would satisfy Andre Johnson and he would return to the team in time for training camp.
However, if that was something the team was willing to do, wouldn't they have already done it?
The Texans aren't expected to compete for a championship this season so I don't expect the fans will put pressure on the organization to cave in to Andre Johnson to get him back on the field quickly. In my opinion, the Texans have almost all of the leverage and will wait him out if forced to play it out that way.
If he is back by the start of training camp, I don't expect to see much of a drop-off even with having to learn a new offense. He's a veteran of over 10 years who will one day be in the Hall of Fame, in my opinion, so he'll be able to adjust and perform in a new system faster than other players.