The Texans, rewarding the best player in their franchise history for his work on and off the field, looked at Andre Johnson's old contract, shook their collective heads, and awarded him an extension. With a tiny raise.
Bob McNair harped at the press conference about making Johnson a Texan for life, and how he'd probably be the first Texan in the Hall Of Fame. According to the Houston Chronicle, the deal is essentially an extension to his original contract, giving him $38.5 million dollars and $15 million guaranteed. That takes the value of his current deal from five years and $35 million to seven years and $73.5 million.
Johnson's old contract, negotiated by his uncle, was a big deal at the time, but has since been eclipsed by the deals of many star receivers, including Larry Fitzgerald and Brandon Marshall. The original deal has been regarded as somewhat of a "hometown discount" for the Texans.
After holding out initially in mini-camp, Johnson returned to the field with a new agent, Houston-based Kennard McGuire, who also negotiated DeMeco Ryan's extension with the Texans this offseason. Johnson, 29, has led the NFL in receiving yards each of the last two seasons, and the last person to do that was Jerry Rice, who will be heading into the HOF himself this weekend.
Johnson's deal creates an uncomfortable precedent for some, since he was only three years into an eight year contract, but thus is the way of the modern NFL. Contracts break quickly and players become underpaid or overpaid over the course of just one season. However, this is a franchise icon, someone who has played for the Texans through thick and thin. Someone who truly deserves the money based not only on his play, but also for his work in the community. This was the right thing to do. Time will tell if it was the fiscally prudent thing to do, but Johnson has also never made waves in the locker room and this may be a matter of appeasing him to keep the status quo.