by Michael Lombardi
May 18, 02010
QUOTE: “The biggest human temptation is … to settle for too little.” -- Thomas Merton
Andre Johnson wants a new deal, with five years left on his deal
The first rule in all contract negotiations is that time equal’s money. The larger the amount of guaranteed money, the longer the length of the contract; the smaller the guarantee, the shorter the deal. In any negotiation, this simple concept starts every deal, whether the contract involves business or an NFL player. Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson signed an eight-year extension for $60 million in March 2007 in which he received $15 million in guaranteed money. In 2007, Johnson was great, and in 2010, Johnson is still great, but he wants to redo his deal -- with five years left. And here’s the kicker: Texans GM Rick Smith is not upset with Johnson. This is what Smith told the Houston Chronicle:
“I’m not real worried because we re-did him with two years left on his original deal, and that was three years ago. Over the first three years of that deal, I think if you even ask him, he’s been well-compensated. He’s got five years left on his deal now (and) we’re willing to sit down and talk with him, and he knows that.”
That last comment will come and bite Smith on the butt for years to come (trust me, every team in the NFL is reading it this morning in disbelief). I hope owner Bob McNair is on board with it because once Smith starts talking to Johnson about a new deal with five years left, his locker room will be holding a champagne party. Smith seems to be fine with the concept of sitting down and talking about a new deal with five years left on the current one – but it must be foreign to McNair in any other business he owns. It’s a good thing Smith sits next to the owner at every game.
Each move a team makes with regard to contracts has significance to the entire team. One move is never independent or stands alone – it has a ripple effect, regardless of the talent level of the player. Once Smith sits down with Johnson to talk a new deal, Owen Daniels, the Pro Bowl tight end, will wonder why he’s not going first. Quarterback Matt Schaub will also want a new deal, and before too long, our Matt Bowen will expect a new deal for being first to write that the Texans are a good team.
In addition, just being good is the most significant point here. The Texans have not won anything -- ever. They have been mediocre -- nothing more, nothing less, and now are acting as if they won the Super Bowl. We all can see (and understand) that the Jets have the “disease of me” (see the Sunday Post), which was expected since they actually went to the playoffs last season. But the Texans having the same problem is laughable -- which I’ll be doing all the way to Amsterdam when Bowen pays off his bet.
Andre Johnson is a great player, and the only person he should hold out from is himself for signing an eight-year deal. He had to know when he signed it that it would be the last deal he’d ever sign – so it had to be a great one. He has no one to blame for the deal other than his agent, who also happens to be his uncle, Andre Melton. So why go public with his displeasure? Put winning first and the team first. Reminder, the Texans have never made the playoffs.
Smith’s rationale for conducting talks centers on his policy that if the players are not in camp, he won’t talk new deal -- but if they’re there, he’s open to chatting. Yet is this policy still in place even if players still have five years left on their deals? With the Brian Cushing saga last week and the Andre Johnson talks this week, the Texans have some issues in their locker room. This might be the perfect time to double down with Bowen on a new bet this year.
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