Andre Johnson wants a new contract, so he skipped the Houston Texans' first voluntary practice of the offseason Monday, and no one is sure when he'll join the team.
Johnson, a four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, has five years left on an eight-year contract worth $60 million, including $15 million in guarantees. By comparison, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall, a two-time Pro Bowl pick, recently signed a five-year, $47.3 million deal.
Andre Johnson makes less than Larry Fitzgerald and Brandon Marshall, but his production rivals those two stars. NFL Network analyst Solomon Wilcots calls him "clearly underpaid." **More ...**
Texans general manager Rick Smith called the situation "very difficult" because Johnson has so much time left on his current deal.
"It is because it's something that's not customary, that's not common," Smith said.
Still, Smith said he's willing to talk with Johnson, who's represented by his uncle, Andre Melton.
"I'm not real worried about that because we redid him with two years left on his original deal, and that was three years ago, and over the first three years of that deal -- even if you ask him -- he's been well compensated," the GM said.
The Texans' policy under Smith has been to only negotiate with players who are participating in team activities. Smith pointed to what star middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans did last offseason when he was unhappy with his contract.
"One of the things that was real smart on his part was the fact that he was upset that we had not been able to come to terms with an agreement, but he came back and was a part of the offseason workout and he was with his teammates, he was a leader and he did things the right way," Smith said. "He played his contract out, and he was rewarded (with a six-year, $48 million contract extension this offseason)."
Johnson's absence is another distraction for a team that has been dealing with linebacker Brian Cushing's upcoming four-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. The 2010 season could be a pivotal one for the Texans, who are coming off their first winning campaign but have never reached the playoffs.
"You'd like to have all your people out here working, especially when we're trying to go do something we never have done," Smith said. "So the ideal situation is to have everybody working together, but as we talked about last week, you've got to be able to deal with distractions."
Smith said he has spoken to Johnson, but he wouldn't divulge details about their conversations. The Texans have a mandatory minicamp scheduled for June 14-16, but it wasn't immediately clear if Johnson would attend.
"Obviously we want Andre here," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "I know he and Rick are talking, so we'll get it worked out. We're not worried about Andre. He'll do his job."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.