The news that we've been waiting for over the past week or so has happened, as according to ESPN's Adam Schefter the Houston Texans have officially released longtime wide receiver Andre Johnson.
Texans officially released WR Andre Johnson.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 9, 2015
The Texans had previously told Johnson that his role would be significantly decreased next year and as a result the team gave Johnson's camp permission to seek a trade, saying that if they didn't find a trade partner they would release the veteran wideout. Johnson's camp wanted a release and no trade happened, so Johnson has indeed been released. And he should absolutely be a target for the Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts need a veteran wide receiver. This isn't a need that can be addressed in the draft - they need a veteran - and it's something that the Colts have already been looking into as free agency approaches. One would think that Johnson would jump to the top of the list for the Colts, considering their need and his likely price tag. He's not expected to break the bank like other receivers (such as Randall Cobb or Torrey Smith) and would be a terrific short-term answer for the Colts in playing alongside a very young group of wideouts.
Johnson will turn 34-years old this summer, but in his 12-year career with the Texans, Johnson played in 169 games and caught 1,012 passes (9th-most all-time) for 13,597 yards (12th-most all-time) and 64 touchdowns, averaging 13.4 yards per reception. He ranks fourth all-time in receiving yards per game over his career with 80.4 and is the Texans' all-time leader in nearly every receiving category. He is a seven-time Pro Bowler, a two-time first-team All-Pro, a two-time second-team All-Pro, and has led the NFL in receiving yards twice.
Johnson is precisely what the Colts should be looking for. They have a legitimate number one receiver in T.Y. Hilton and a plethora of young talent in Donte Moncrief and even Duron Carter, but they need a veteran possession receiver who can come in and produce immediately. That's Johnson. He's not a long-term answer, but he would be a great answer this year for the Colts.
"Wherever I go, I hope I can play with a great quarterback," Johnson told ESPN's Josina Anderson. And the Colts absolutely have that in Andrew Luck, and Johnson would have a chance to play for a contender with the Colts as well.
One other interesting storyline to keep an eye on as it pertains to Johnson and the Colts is the fact that he is very close friends with Reggie Wayne, who the Colts parted ways with on Friday. Would Johnson be ok being the "replacement" for his good friend? In many ways, both receivers are in similar situations, as they both are all-timers both in their franchise history and in NFL history and both have a shot at the Hall of Fame, as well as the fact that they both have basically been told by their longtime team that they're no longer wanted. I would imagine that Johnson would think about whether he'd want to replace Reggie, and while that's not going to be the biggest factor by any means, it's certainly worth noting.
The bottom line is this: the Colts should have Andre Johnson on the phone right now to bring him in. He's absolutely what the Colts need at their wide receiver position, and he would get the chance to play with a great quarterback and for a contender.