Johnson told the Houston Chronicle on Monday that coach Bill O'Brien sat him down last week to say that he shouldn't expect to catch more than about 40 passes in 2015.
"I just laughed," said Johnson, the team's all-time leading receiver. "They gave me my role, and I just laughed at them. How do you tell a guy who is used to catching 80 balls a year that he was going to catch 40?"
O'Brien wasn't finished, informing Johnson that he wouldn't even start next season alongside DeAndre Hopkins.
"I was floored," Johnson said. "I don't feel like there is a guy on that team that can outplay me or outwork me. I mean, who am I going to play behind?
"So I was real honest with him: 'If that's your role for me, you're going to be dealing with a miserable football player.'"
Johnson's agent, Kennard McGuire, told a Houston radio station that only when "certain things were expressed" by the team, did talk bubble up about Johnson seeking a trade or his release.
While it wasn't a shock to see the Texans balk at paying Johnson, 33, more than $20 million over the next two seasons, their handling of the matter was shabby. Especially considering how weak the receiver position is behind Hopkins and his one-time mentor.