This post was put together with the help of @BigRon281... much thanks.
Word came out on Thursday that Johnson was holding his ground over a $1 million workout bonus he was scheduled to make for attending OTAs and Mandatory Mini-Camp. Johnson was set to return to the Texans during OTAs if the Texans were going to give him the complete workout bonus but the Texans balked at that idea according to sources.
Now the same sources are saying Johnson has told the Texans that he wants out of Houston via trade and there have already been four teams inquiring about the 12 year pro. Johnson appears to be in no rush to head back to Houston, and the Texans seem to be firm in their stance to keep things the way they currently are with Johnson. The reality is that Johnson has little leverage with the situation and the more that he waits to return to the team his value starts to diminish.
There are some key factors to the Johnson issue,
Over 30 Million in Funny Money
Andre Johnson has $31.5 million of base salary in his last three years of his contract. Johnson will do everything in his power to turn his “funny money” into real money and if he gets traded he intends to restructure his deal to make the move which does not include a pay cut. Johnson wants guarantees past the season, but with his age and contract numbers, Johnson is close to losing this money that is written on paper. That is what he is trying to keep from losing, the money that is still on paper.
?2011 Restructure Bonus: $7.5 million
?2012 Restructure Bonus: $5.2 million
?2013 Restructure: $5.5 million/ 4 years
There has been talk on how Andre Johnson restructured for the team to make other personnel moves and get under the salary cap. Johnson took the restructures in good faith and he benefited from poor cap management that has pushed his cap numbers these next three seasons 14+ million with his base salary being turned into instant cash in his Pocket.
If Johnson does not show up to Houston on August 5th, he will lose an accrued season towards his NFL status. Johnson has plenty of money made prior to this season, so this could be a non factor when it is all said and done.
The Texans can fine Johnson up to $30,000 a practice and game checks for missing preseason games (1/17th of his salary). Once again, his money in the bank could make this a non-factor but adding this to a million dollars he has missed out on during the offseason, he is taking money out of his own pocket at this point.
Andre Has to Play to Make His Money
Johnson is in the portion of his 7 year deal he signed in 2010 that has very little guarantees for the remaining three years.
1.) He has a $200k option bonus paid out to him the next three seasons ($600k total). (How they are to be paid is not known.)
2.) His roster bonus is $1 million, which requires him to be at offseason workouts, for the next three season. He has already lost a million this season by not showing up.
3.) He has no other guarantees on his contract and the restructured and signing bonuses have already been paid out to Johnson.
4.) In order for Johnson to make the remaining $31.5 million of his base salary the next three seasons, he has to play for the Texans. There is no guarantee that the Texans will keep him around to make this money, which looks like what Johnson wants from the Texans.
5.) Johnson is a vested veteran and if he is on the Texans week one roster his complete base salary for 2014 becomes guaranteed which is $10 million.
The Texans are in no rush to act on Johnson and being under the salary cap gives the Texans the chance to sit and wait. There is a good chance that this will run into training camp with the focus being pushed onto Johnson to make a decision. The team is better with Johnson on the field and the team planned to have him on the roster this season and that thought process is not going to change. Johnson has more value on the open market with the Texans on the hook for $600k as the only guarantees left on his contract. The Texans can cut or trade Johnson with little repercussions and cap savings moving forward, if they choose to make that decision.
The team has to weigh if losing their original franchise icon and the production on the field Johnson has given the Texans over the past 12 seasons is worth the current standoff.
The only thing that will solve this issue with the Texans and Johnson is time, and the clock is slowly moving towards training camp. This will feel like a long process and the Texans hold all the cards with Johnson’s future in Houston. Johnson’s only way out at the moment, through the Texans, is retirement unless they decide to trade him.