Is Andre Johnson The Missing Piece To The St. Louis Rams Offense?
Dec 22, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson (80) runs after a catch against the Denver Broncos during the first half at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports
With the St. Louis Rams 2014 NFL Draft class in tow, there is little to do now but wait and see how the positional battles play out during the offseason workouts. Most, if not all, have praised the St. Louis front office for piecing together one of the top draft classes in the league, highlighting the Rams two Top 15 linemen; Aaron Donald and Greg Robinson, both the top prospect at their respective position. In terms of pre-draft holes, the Rams certainly addressed their need for talent in the secondary, with draftees, like Lamarcus Joyner and Maurice Alexander, as well as a number of undrafted free agents, like Maurice Roberson and Greg Reid (undrafted in 2013). The Rams appeared to also do an excellent job of adding the depth they needed on the offensive line, taking Robinson as an inside-out prospect, as well as drafting Mitchell Van Dyk and Demetrius Rhaney in the later rounds. However, the one corps that surprising did not receive an upgrade was wide receiver…
This offseason, Les Snead and Jeff Fisher regurgitated sound bites of confidence and contentedness with the Rams current batch of receivers. To be honest, the additions of Kenny Britt, a former first-rounder, and T.J. Moe should have bolstered some belief in their comments heading into last weekend. However, in the deepest receiver class in “decades,” the St. Louis front office opted to pass on all of the prospects in favor of their current grouping. To be fair, that corps does include several highly drafted players, including Tavon Austin (1st), Stedman Bailey (3rd), Brian Quick (2nd), and Chris Givens (4th). Why add more “prospects” to an already talented class fighting for reps?
Obviously, the Rams opted not to add anymore young talent through the draft… but what if that new talent weren’t a rookie, but rather, an established, Top 10 receiver?
Recently, Andre Johnson made some comments about his dissatisfaction with the Houston Texans’ organization, going so far as to suggest that Houston “might not be the place” for him in the NFL any longer. Obviously, that resinated strongly throughout the Rams Nation community, with many clamoring to add the top-flight, albeit aging, receiver to Bradford’s repertoire of weapons.
Most in the media have tagged Andre Johnson, and his massive contract, as “immovable,” citing his $15.6 million cap hit in 2014, and the $11.9 million dead money penalty the Houston Texans would incur if they released him. According to Spotrac.com, the St. Louis Rams are a mere $8.8 million under the cap as it currently sits, with an anticipated $5.7 million due to the incoming rookie class. When all the bills are paid, that would leave the St. Louis Rams with roughly $3.1 million in “spendable” money.
So, would Andre Johnson to the Rams be out of the question?
However, the St. Louis Rams do have some wiggle room, if they were genuinely interested. With Aaron Donald on the roster, Kendall Langford could be considered an expendable commodity, and would free up $4.0 million under the cap. The oft-injured Scott Wells could get chopped as well, with both Tim Barnes and Barrett Jones in line for snaps at center; that would free up another $4.5 million. To add a finished touch, the Rams could also part ways with the final non-Fisher draftee in the receiving corps, Austin Pettis, adding another $1.5 million to the pot, and freeing up a slot on the receiver depth chart. Those three would move the Rams to around $13.1 million under the cap.
While that still may not cover the $15.6 million currently slotted for Andre Johnson, mutually benefiting parties could certainly re-negotiate a reasonable contract, if interested.
Obviously, this is purely a hypothetical exercise, with almost zero chance of actually happening. However, it does bring up a handful of debatable questions. Could an Andre Johnson-type of player be the “missing piece” to the St. Louis Rams offense? Would adding a “true, No.1” receiver be worth sacrificing some depth on the front lines? Give us your thoughts…