In a bit of a shocker, Andre Johnson has decided to retire midseason. This comes a week after Arian Foster, his former Houston Texans teammate, suddenly retired while working back from an injury. The writing was kind of on the wall that Johnson would retire after the season, but he decided to call it early. I applaud Johnson for knowing when his body and mind just couldn’t go anymore, and hanging up his cleats on his own terms.
While he didn’t have much of a statistical impact in his eight games as a Titan, Johnson came up with what will surely be the Titans’ clutch moment of the year, hauling in a 4th and 5 touchdown as the clock wound down in our comeback win against the Detroit Lions. That touchdown was his only catch of the game. In next week’s game against the Oakland Raiders, Johnson caught a game-tying touchdown catch with mere seconds left in the game, but he was called for offensive pass interference. We ended up losing that game, but Johnson played an important role as essentially a pinch-hitter at wide receiver, being used in game-on-the-line moments. He was also a veteran presence for our young receivers.
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His sudden retirement paves the way for either Harry Douglas, Tre McBride, or possibly an outside face. Johnson only had nine total catches on the year, but he played on 39.82% of total offensive snaps. That is a large number considering Rishard Matthews is at 57.25% and Kendall Wright is at only 24.04%. Wright should figure to get that snap percentage bumped up, but the coaching staff seems to have a very specific role for him as a third-down, big play receiving role. Matthews was at 86.6% in our last game, so his snap count is booming as of late. Douglas hasn’t played since week three, so he might get the call with Johnson gone, especially considering that Douglas is a veteran presence. That said, he’s not good and I wouldn’t want him anywhere near an offense that is on fire.
McBride is very much of interest to me. He’s a good special teams player, whic could give him the edge over Douglas. He’s also much younger and much more talented. He had a productive college career and blazed a 4.37 40 yard dash at the combine. If the Titans don’t deem Douglas or McBride helpful for the team, they might look outside of the organization for receiving help. There are a good amount of receivers that are possible trade candidates.
The best among them is Alshon Jeffery, who is in a terrible situation in Chicago. John Fox has refused to feed him the ball, instead choosing to make Kevin White and Cameron Meredith target hogs while using Jeffery as a deep threat. Jeffery is expected to test the free agent market after the season, so the Bears could look to get some trade value for him before that happens.
Other options are Torrey Smith and Brian Quick. Smith would seem to fit well as a deep threat, an element we haven’t had much of this season. But with Wright rounding into form, most of our deep shots are being thrown (and completed successfully) towards him. Quick is very intriguing. The 33rd overall pick in the 2012 draft, Quick is at his peak right now at age 27 and it’s showing. Deployed in an offense quarterbacked by Case Keenum and coached by Jeff Fisher, Quick has gone over 50 yards in each of his last five games and has scored three touchdowns. He’s a big-bodied, big play threat. We need a guy like that on this offense.
I’m not really expecting the Titans to make a trade for a receiver in the wake of Johnson’s retirement, but I kind of want them to. This offense is just one solid receiver away from becoming great. With the Titans squarely in the playoff picture, Jon Robinson can announce his winning intentions with a splash move. We’ll see what he does.