When reports link a player to multiple unnamed teams, there’s a good chance there aren’t as many unnamed teams as reported. Or any.
But let’s suspend disbelief for now and assume at least four NFL franchise would be interested in giving up one or more draft picks for a 33-year-old receiver due to make $10 million this year and $11.5 million in 2015. Who would, could, should those teams be?
Johnson knows the Kyle Shanahan offense, and the Browns will lack a true No. 1 wideout, if/when (when) Josh Gordon receives his latest suspension. They also have a first-round pick to spare in 2015, thanks to the Sammy Watkins trade. (Whether Johnson is worth a first-round pick in 2015 is a different issue, on par with whether he’s worth $20.5 million over the next two years.)
Baltimore has plenty of pass-catchers, but they don’t seem to be thrilled with the group as a whole. With former Texans coach Gary Kubiak now coordinating the Baltimore offense, Kubiak could be making the case for making the move. But they’d probably have to be willing to ship someone like Torrey Smith to Houston in order to get Johnson — and that probably wouldn’t be a good idea.
How about a straight-up trade of Andre Johnson for Roddy White? While it’s debatable whether White and Julio Jones provide the best one-two punch at receiver in the NFL, Johnson and Jones would definitely push the Falcons to the top of the league. The possibility has to at least be tempting for G.M. Thomas Dimitroff, who seems to be trying to strike the right balance between the goal of building for the long haul with the importance of trying to win now.
They definitely need a clear-cut No. 1 receiver. And before anyone says it would be out of character for the Patriots to make a move for Johnson, would it really be? They’ve traded in past years for guys like Randy Moss, Chad Johnson, and Albert Haynesworth. The question would be whether the Pats can do a deal that they believe to be a good deal for the Patriots. If the trade package includes quarterback Ryan Mallett, who will undoubtedly leave via free agency in 2015, it could be a win for everyone.
They clearly need a good pass-catcher. But it wouldn’t be easy to muster the cap space.
We’ve previously heard they’d be interested in trading for Johnson, but the price would have to be right. Maybe they’d be willing to ship Dwayne Bowe to Houston, but the cap consequences could be untenable.
They’ve invested plenty of draft picks in recent years to the receiver position. Why not devote a couple of future selection for a guy who would help get the most out of quarterback Sam Bradford? With Johnson and Tavon Austin and a smattering of players that inevitably has to include a guy or two who will step up (Brian Quick, Stedman Bailey, etc.), the Rams could be ready to make a serious run at the top of the division — especially with a defense that is on the verge of being one of the best in the league.