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CONSPIRACY THEORY: Could The Ed Reed Debacle Lead To Andre Johnson's Departure From Houston?

By all accounts, Andre Johnson is a very good friend of Ed Reed's. 'Dre was a driving force behind Reed signing with the Texans. Could the team's decision to dump Ed Reed portend Andre Johnson's exit from Houston sooner rather than later?

One of these men is the best player in Texans' franchise history.  The other was an unmitigated disaster for the Texans.
One of these men is the best player in Texans' franchise history. The other was an unmitigated disaster for the Texans.
Bob Levey

Let me begin this post by saying that everything you're about to read is nothing more than something that's crossed my mind in the wake of the Houston Texans cutting Ed Reed two days ago. There is not a kernel of evidence to support any of what's to follow. None. It's simply a thought. A fear, really. Whether it's well-founded, feasible, or complete nonsense is your call to make. Please do not cite this post as a rumor, much less a viable report. It's not. It is wholly speculative and the sort of ridiculous notion that pops up when your team was supposed to be a Super Bowl contender but is instead 2-7 and you're already counting down the days until the draft and you're all out of whiskey.

We begin with a brief timeline of how Ed Reed became a member of the Houston Texans...

Shortly after the Ravens won the Super Bowl last February, Andre Johnson texted his friend, college teammate, and soon-to-be free agent Ed Reed a note of congratulations. Reed's response? "Get me to Houston."

Free agency began the following month. The Texans elected to allow Glover Quin to sign with the Lions. This was a shocker to most Houston fans until word got out that the Texans allegedly had Quin's replacement targeted before free agency began. The target? Why, perhaps the best safety to ever play the game! Ed Reed, baby! #REEDWATCH was born.

Lending credibility to the Texans' strategy, Ed Reed came on an official visit to our fair city. He arrived on Bob McNair's private jet and stayed in town overnight, going out to dinner and hitting the town with fellow Hurricanes Andre Johnson and Chris Myers. From that last link:

Moving on from that, Mr. Reed talks about the organization and Houston here, referring to it as a "home away from home." In that interview, we learn how long the illustrious Andre Johnson has been talking up Houston to the inevitable Hall of Famer...

While they wouldn't play on the same side of the ball, Andre Johnson is very excited about playing with his former teammate from The U. While some dispute Johnson playing a role in recruitment, he admits that he's put a bug in Reed's ear. Chris Myers, another U teammate of Reed's, also talks about his excitement at getting a player of Reed's caliber and stature. Even if Reed has lost a step, you have to consider the locker room reaction of bringing someone like him in and, if Johnson and Myers are to be our examples, it would go over quite well in Reliant.

Yet reports of the Texans not offering Reed enough money surfaced, and Reed left Houston without a deal. Idiots like me lamented the Texans' failure to close the deal.

But wait! It wasn't over yet! Turns out, no other team actually offered Reed a contract. Hmmmm....perhaps a bigger deal should have been made of that. Nevertheless, on March 20th, Ed Reed agreed to terms with the Texans, though he didn't actually sign the contract until March 22nd. The contract itself was very front-loaded. It was clear that the Texans brought Reed on for 2013; anything after that would be gravy.

Andre Johnson's running buddy, one of the best football players of all time, was coming to Houston. Coming off a 12-4 season, even one that ended as ignominiously as the Texans' 2012 campaign had, the sky was the limit. Andre Johnson had to be beyond excited.

Except, as we know now, the sky has fallen. Less than two months after signing with the Texans, Ed Reed underwent hip surgery. Worse still, the Texans apparently missed the torn labrum during their physical examination of Reed before the contract was signed. Worst of all, Reed looked pedestrian (if we want to be kind) or dreadful (if we want to be accurate less than genteel) when he finally did get on the field for his new employer. A relationship that seemed to have so much promise eight months before came to an ignoble end when the Texans decided they would be better off without their marquee free agent acquisition, without a freaking Hall of Famer, than with him. In short, the Texans chose Shiloh Keo over Ed Reed. Ed Reed got cut, passed through waivers unclaimed, and then signed with the Jets today.

Andre Johnson spoke for the first time yesterday about his close friend being fired by their mutual employer:

(on FS Ed Reed being released) "It’s not my call. That’s people upstairs decisions. I can’t talk about that."

(on if it was tough to see FS Ed Reed be released) "It’s not something you want to see, but it’s part of the business. I had a chance to talk to him last night and he’s not in a bad place or anything like that. You wish he still could be here, but that’s not what it is. The decision is made and you’ve got to move on from it."

(on FS Ed Reed and him not being able to get done what they set out to do) "It’s disappointing for everybody. It just didn’t work out and that’s pretty much it. I don’t really have anything else to say about it. I think it’s disappointing for everybody. Everybody’s frustrated. It’s just a part of it."

(on if he expects to see FS Ed Reed wind up somewhere else) "I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up somewhere else. I wouldn’t be surprised at all. I wouldn’t be surprised if he went somewhere and did very well. That’s just my opinion."

(on if he would be surprised if FS Ed Reed retired) "I wouldn’t be surprised by that either. Guy’s a first ballot Hall of Famer. What more could you ask for? Can he still play? Yeah, I think so. But if you want to retire, that’s on him. That’s his decision. I’m pretty sure when he feels like he needs to make that decision he’ll make it."

Was I to summarize 'Dre's remarks, I would do so as follows:

1. Andre Johnson was not pleased with the team's decision to release Ed Reed.
2. Andre Johnson does, however, understand that he does not get to make those decisions.
3. The fact that 'Dre doesn't get to make those decisions does not lessen his frustration or disappointment with the situation.
4. Andre Johnson believes Ed Reed is still capable of playing good football.
5. In light of Points 1, 3, and 4, Andre Johnson is not happy with how the Ed Reed situation played out.

Throughout his eleven (11!) years in Houston, Andre Johnson has been everything a team or fan could ever ask for. He's consistently produced at an extraordinarily high level despite often being surrounded by far inferior talent. He gives back to the community. Aside from a very brief contractual spat back in 2010, Andre Johnson has not made any waves off the field. He's basically been the perfect employee and ambassador for the organization.

Now that organization has suddenly fired his buddy. A buddy who he helped convince to come here. I'm not naive enough to think that it was Andre Johnson and not the money that made Ed Reed a Texan, but I do think 'Dre played a role in making the situation more enticing for Reed. For the Texans to dump Reed, like this, after 'Dre sang the praises of the organization to help convince Reed to sign here? Notwithstanding Andre's stated acceptance of football as a business, that has to piss him off. It would piss me off.

What's more is that this happened when the Texans, a team everyone thought was a lock for the playoffs and a legitimate contender for more than that, have completely imploded. Ineffectiveness and injury have thrown the future, both immediate and long-term, completely into doubt. Who's the head coach next year? Who's the quarterback? Who's the running back? How about getting a right tackle? If the team does fire Gary Kubiak, what does the offensive scheme look like next year? Can the defense get fixed in one offseason? How can a team jettison a Hall of Famer like Ed Reed while embracing continuity on a special teams unit that, aside from Shane Lechler, has been viscerally horrendous for years on end? These are all legitimate questions.

Moreover, although he's seen a ton of good press since 2011, don't forget that Rick Smith is not without his critics. After seeing firsthand how Ed Reed's time in Houston ended, is that a regime Andre Johnson still feels good about?

Andre Johnson will turn 33 years old this offseason. As good as he still is, nothing lasts forever. Is it possible the way the Ed Reed saga went down, coupled with the sobering reality that he's playing for a team that has far more questions than answers, could lead to 'Dre deciding he wants to finish his career somewhere else?

I have no idea. But the fact that I'm asking the question terrifies me.

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