As the Houston Texans ready themselves for free agency next week, they opened up another $9 million in salary cap space by releasing their 2015 first round draft choice, cornerback Kevin Johnson. Johnson becomes a free agent, and despite multiple concussions over the last couple seasons, it is reportedly still his intent to play football in 2019:
Kevin Johnson, released today by Texans, after spending season on IR with concussion issues has met with neurologists and says he's good to go: 'They told me I’m cleared, good to go and I’m in great shape moving forward. I’m feeling good. I’m going to be ready to go next season'— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) March 5, 2019
Here are my three thoughts on Kevin Johnson's time as a Texan:
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Kevin Johnson's career jumped the shark against the Colts at home in 2016
I remember doing the postgame show following this home win on a Sunday night in 2016, an overtime win over the Colts in which Brock Osweiler brought the Texans all the way back from down 14 points in the second half. (This was also where Osweiler's career jumped the shark, by the way.) This was Johnson's best game as a pro, solid in coverage all night with nine solo tackles, and we were all hyped to talk about it on the show, and then came the bad news — Kevin Johnson broke his foot and was done for the year. Johnson was never the same player after this. He came back in 2017, but like most of the team, he was injured and not very effective all season, and concussions became a big problem.
This ends the Texans ungodly string of solid first round picks
Rick Smith had his fair share of critics when he was the general manager, and rightfully so, but he DID draft pretty well run the first round. Once he got Amobi Okoye out of his system in 2007, he went on to draft seven straight franchise fixtures in the first round from 2008 through 2014 — Duane Brown, Brian Cushing, Kareem Jackson, J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus, DeAndre Hopkins, and Jadeveon Clowney. Johnson's release officially ends the streak of non-busts.
The biggest cost of doing business with Kevin Johnson was losing A.J. Bouye after 2016
When Johnson went down with the foot injury in 2016, it allowed A.J. Bouye to step up and take his spot, and all he did was become one of the top cornerbacks in the entire league. However, when Bouye hit free agency after the 2016 season, they chose not to use the franchise tag on him, and let him walk, in large part because they expected Johnson to retake his job and play at a high level. Two seasons later, Bouye is one of the highest paid corners in football and is making Pro Bowls in Jacksonville, and Johnson is unemployed. Life comes at you pretty fast, I guess.