New York Jets: Andre Johnson and Overcompensation

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Andre Johnson’s ability makes him attractive at first glance, sure, but from a more in depth standpoint it just doesn’t line up.  The philosophy here might come off as the simple “avoid big names” one, but it isn’t.  There are many reasons why the Jets would be very short-sighted to bring in Johnson.

To start with the simpler matters, the disgruntled Texans receiver is 33.  Age is just a number in the NFL and Johnson continually disproves that he is aging, but injuries have not been avoided. Johnson has always been a trooper to still suit up and play hurt, but it seems like he hasn’t been 100% throughout the majority of an NFL season in quite some time.  His production seemingly makes him worth the price on the surface, but the injury risk already makes things dicey right off the bat.

Another reason bringing in Johnson would be ill-advised is because of how the Jets have handled the wide receiver position since it rotted in the cellar by the end of 2013. Eric Decker was made their primary free agent target and signed a big deal with the team.  John Idzik also made the move for Jacoby Ford for more competition at the bottom of the depth chart. When the depth was still in question, the Jets went and drafted three receivers with perfectly diverse skillsets in Shaq Evans, Jalen Saunders, and Quincy Enunwa.  Of course, Jeremy Kerley is still a huge contributor and David Nelson, Stephen Hill, and Greg Salas all have fair cases to stick around. Having to cut a few young, deserving receivers of a roster spot would be one thing, but acquiring Johnson and thus admitting instant defeat with three draft picks is even worse of a matter. They may be mid and late round picks, but not even having possible room for them on the roster sacrifices scouting and talent value.

However, my main issue with this idea to bring in the future Hall of Famer revolves around one broad topic- overcompensation. The word has to deal with excessive spending and focus in a designated area, with the wide receiver position being the victim in this case.  As some of you may recall if you follow my admittedly terrible Twitter account, I wasn’t a big fan of the move to bring in Chris Johnson.  It was a bit of overcompensation to me.  The Jets already had a very solid combo of Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell, and more recently added speed to the position with former Rams RB Daryl Richardson. Signing the former Titan was excessive.

The difference between these two situations is drastic, though.  While the Jets may have reached a bit in hopes to create a dominant backfield, they can lean on their rushing attack now with a young and still-learning quarterback in Geno Smith. The only real downside will be figuring out how to make the most use out of their trio of running backs now by getting them all a timely and fair amount of carries. Not to mention, the only definite cut that the Jets will have to make is likely going to be Alex Green, who got somewhat of a chance last year to flaunt his skills and made little of it. Nobody’s losing in this entire situation besides, well, Green and his agent. The Jets may be overpaying at the running back position in general, but their cap can take that hit and the team’s current offensive attack can get very close to full use from all of their backs still. No harm, no foul.

On the other hand, the addition of Andre Johnson could spurn a lot of successful things that John Idzik has done so far with this team so far this off-season.  First, he will in fact cost a lot of money; I’d say somewhere around 10 million a year (with the injury scares making this even more concerning). To make the most out of that heavy spending and waste of talent at the lower portion of the depth chart that’s being cut to give Johnson a roster spot, Geno Smith would have to gel with his almost entirely new wide receivers corps from the beginning. With Johnson being 33 and dissatisfied with losing, the Jets can’t afford for Smith to take time to adjust. The second year quarterback, meanwhile, will already be meshing with Decker and likely Evans and Saunders, who’ll likely see considerable reps. Smith showed a lot of life at the end of last season and needs to hurdle the second year hump completely for the sake of his own momentum and the Jets’. This simply can’t go smoothly if he’s flustered more than he already is by thrusting another starting wideout he’s never played with before into the picture.

Lastly, the most realistic factor in the debate of this possible acquisition is the fact that while Geno flashed great improvement in the last quarter of his rookie year, he’s still not that great of an NFL quarterback. If the Jets make the move for Johnson, it does more evil than go completely against John Idzik’s philosophy of balance; it spills over the talent at a position that is simple not all that important for the team at their current state. It was absolutely essential this off-season for the Jets to create a stable wide receiving corps for their young quarterback; I won’t deny that. But to go and overcompensate by making it the most focused position on the team is just a dagger in the heart of the Jets’ priorities. I’m certainly not blaming Geno Smith in the end of all this, but realistically, he is the player who correctly highlights the problem of this possible move. His current skill level will be lucky to catch up and use the talent at wide receiver that has been added efficiently. Adding Johnson gives him even more to have to incorporate, and he won’t be able to manage it to make it worth the Jets’ spending.

  • KAsh

    I think your argument is disingenuous. A great wide receiver eases the job pressure on a developing quarterback, or at least that was said about Reggie Wayne’s impact for Luck, Green’s impact for Dalton, and Megatron’s for Stafford. But with Geno, we should not bother giving him a great option in the passing game? Just let him hand the ball off to Ivory and Johnson and try to not lose games? We did the same thing with Sanchez; that turned out fine. You can overcompensate when you bring in too much talent to a weak position, but you have not done that when no one believes you will be throwing a lot or can name three good, stable receivers on your team or even cares about the lack of wide receivers aside from how it will mean additional reliance on the tight ends and the run game.

    Andre Johnson will not be coming here, but it is not because the Jets are settled at wide receiver. Johnson’s issues in Houston are that he believes the Texans are rebuilding and are not built to compete for a Super Bowl this year without a viable quarterback. He is disgruntled and wants to be traded to a winner. After three years of hardship, the Jets are on the rise again, but we are not winners yet and Johnson would not be all that much happier moving to the Jets than staying put in Houston. Beyond that, Johnson is old (33) and his contract is prohibitively expensive (over $10 million/yr each of its remaining three years). The Jets are likely to lose money, if Johnson is not the same player at age 35, as he was at 30.

    Johnson’s situation sucks, but he protested a little too late. Even one year ago, the Jets should have jumped at the chance to trade for him. Now, the window for the trade has closed. The best use I can see for Johnson on the Jets is Over the Cap’s take: trade for him and get rid of Geno’s last excuse, find out if you have a franchise quarterback, and, if not, trade Johnson mid-season to a contender. It is the closest scenario to an all-around win that I can think of. But giving up players or picks for a three-month rental, no matter how good, is not worth it.

  • Dan in RI

    This is really a non-question for the Jets management, though it seems to be a popular question among Jets fans. Idzik’s philosophy, so far can be summarized as “go young and cheap”, or at the very least “don’t overpay”. There is no way that Andre Johnson can be made to fit that philosophy.

    We have one excellent WR, one very good slot receiver, and a bunch of question marks on the other side. But I have to think that one of those question marks–Hill, Nelson, Ford, Saunders, Evans, Salas or even Enunwa will show enough in camp that the team will feel pretty good going into the season with what they have.

    Idzik is saving cap space for a reason. He will likely need to add one or two players who get cut by other teams (depth at OL is a big problem), and he has some big contracts coming up next year–especially Mo Wilkerson, as well as lesser contracts (Kerley, Wilson, Ellis). He isn’t about to sacrifice his plan for “sustained success” to sign a very pricey, aging wide receiver.

  • Stevesc

    Three reasons not to even think about signing Andre Johnson: one, he has already said that he will not take a cut in pay which means he will not come cheap. Two, as you stated, he has been injury prone these past few seasons and three, his age. Aging athletes plus injuries equals longer recovery times, thus less time on the field. I don’t care what anyone says, Idzik is doing the right thing with this team. How long have any aging free agents that have signed with the Jets in recent history lasted? It’s about time there is a GM who is looking for youth instead of overpaying fa’s on the downside of their careers, as the Jets have done so many times. IMHO.

  • Joe Caporoso

    Thanks for reading/commenting all! And a good, interesting read from MOC.

    My opinion is that this won’t happen for a few reasons: I think ultimately AJ will end up staying in HOU as outlined here: http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap2000000364483/article/andre-johnson-reportedly-will-not-be-traded-by-texans – Also think the Jets have built their team to be two TE, run and screen heavy. They haven’t built their roster to heavily invest in a 30+ year old WR.

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  • aj

    They paid for santonio holmes y not pay for Andre Johnson he is a far much better athlete then holmes