Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 8/13/12
Do the Houston Texans strike you as a desperate kind of franchise? Do Gary Kubiak and Rick Smith seem like they need attention? Ever seen the Texans pull some stunt? No? Then why would they sign Chad Johnson? The 34-year-old wide receiver was released by the Miami Dolphins less than a day after he was accused of head-butting his wife and arrested. So he is available and he might still be good and the Texans could really use a No. 2 wide receiver. In an alternate universe, it makes some sense. But not in this one. In this one, the Texans have built their identity around an aw-shucksy coach (Kubiak), a behind-the-scenes general manager (Smith), a soft-speaking owner (Bob McNair) and a quiet wide receiver (Andre Johnson). It is an understated franchise in a city that takes some pride in being not like Dallas. What about that sounds like Chad Johnson? And we dont even know if he can still play. Johnson was once a superstar. He had a six-year stretch in which he averaged 1,300 yards and eight touchdowns. But that stretch ended four years ago. Hes had one 1,000-yard season since then, and last year caught just 15 passes for the New England Patriots. His whole career, Johnson has been equal parts player and stunt man. It started with all the funny quotes and the stuff on the field, and then he raced a horse, changed his last name to Ochocinco, tried out for a professional soccer team, joined the New England Patriots. And so Johnsons career has reached its poetic conclusion. His career is, itself, a stunt. And any team offering him a contract is now pulling the same kind of antic for which Johnson has long been known. What about that sounds like the Houston Texans? From a purely practical standpoint, Johnson and the Texans might be a combination worth trying. Traditionally, the best fit for an aging star in any sport is with a team that feels it is on the verge of winning a championship, but could use a little bump at a certain position. Thats the Texans. What the Texans need, more than anything, is a playmaking receiver to put opposite Andre Johnson (or to replace Johnson when hes injured, which is most of the time these days). It is easily the most obvious gap on the Texans roster. They addressed it in the middle of the draft, but what can you really expect from a rookie receiver taken in the third round? But look, theres a reason the Dolphins cut Johnson, and it isnt just because he got arrested. He obviously is not the same player he once was, but hes the same dude as ever. Hes a character. He needs attention, and he still gets it one way or another. In Miami it was with a bizarre press conference in which he used a bunch of cuss words seemingly just to show he knew how. The last act of a desperate man, perhaps. If youve been watching HBOs Hard Knocks, you know that got him a weirdly encrypted little lecture from coach Joe Philbin, who later indicated he wouldnt be putting up with much of that sort of thing from Johnson. Because he doesnt have to. And neither does anybody else. Although he has lost a step, Johnson might still be able to help a good team win a championship. There is that chance. Hes not totally over the hill. But the potential reward no longer outweighs the risk that he disrupts and distracts a team that by all appearances is pretty together and pretty focused. The Texans are Andre Johnson, not Chad Johnson. And if they sign the latter, then theyve got an identity crisis just like he does.
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