Going back to his days at the University of Miami, Andre was one of the most impressive wide receivers I’ve scouted. He had a professional approach to the game both on and off the field and in my opinion is one of the best to have played the game. I enjoyed getting to know and work with him in his time with our team. He certainly contributed to this team – making the game-winning catch at Detroit and his daily interaction with the young wide receivers. We wish him nothing but the best moving forward in whatever endeavors he chooses.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported no press conference is scheduled at this time for Johnson to discuss his retirement.
However, Johnson did release a statement on Instagram on Wednesday:
Johnson, 35, was in his first season with the Titans after signing with the team in July. He played the 2015 campaign with the Indianapolis Colts and spent his first 12 NFL seasons with the Houston Texans.
The No. 3 pick in the 2003 NFL draft, Johnson is the Texans' leader in every major receiving category. His 1,062 receptions rank ninth in NFL history, and he's 10th all time with 14,185 receiving yards. Only Larry Fitzgerald has hauled in more passes among active players, and only Steve Smith Sr. has more receiving yards.
Charley Casserly, who drafted Johnson, spoke of his talents on the NFL Network on Monday (via Rapoport and Kevin Patra of NFL.com): "Andre was the biggest, fastest, most talented receiver I’ve ever scouted. ... Andre had as much talent as Jerry Rice, he just didn’t play for the 49ers... He’s as good as Jerry Rice, IMO, in all areas."
The Texans later shared reaction from their players to Johnson's retirement:
Houston Texans @HoustonTexans
"He always stayed humble." "He always worked hard." "He had a Hall of Fame career." #Texans players react to Andre Johnson's retirement. https://t.co/P8ZOZKi0qe2016-10-31 21:00:04
Johnson made seven Pro Bowls and four All-Pro teams with the Texans, leading the NFL in receiving in both 2008 and 2009. The end of his career in Houston was nonetheless unfortunate, with the team informing him he would lose his starting job ahead of the 2015 season.
Instead of coming off the bench, Johnson was released and spent the last two seasons unsuccessfully trying to make the Texans regret their decision with AFC South rivals. He recorded just 41 receptions for 503 yards last season with the Colts before being released, and he hauled in only nine grabs for 85 yards in Tennessee.
"It’s a challenge," he said of his role in September, per Wyatt. "It’s something different, but it’s something you have to get used to because as a competitor you always want to be out on the field to try to help the team. At the end of the day, it is what it is."
Johnson did not have a known injury, but he has not recorded a reception since an Oct. 9 win over the Miami Dolphins. The Titans have instead relied on their burgeoning group of young receivers, led by Rishard Matthews, Tajae Sharpe and Kendall Wright.
The timing of Johnson's decision is a little surprising, with Tennessee in the thick of the AFC playoff race. The Titans sit only one game behind the Texans for first place in the AFC South and have the division's best point differential.
Johnson's next stop may be the Hall of Fame, though the receiver backlog could cause him to miss out on first-ballot status. Terrell Owens, Hines Ward and Isaac Bruce are still waiting to hear their names called, and Randy Moss and Reggie Wayne will become eligible before Johnson. Calvin Johnson, who retired after the 2015 season, may also have an interesting case.
That said, it would be a surprise if Andre Johnson doesn't see his bust in Canton someday.
Follow Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) on Twitter.