When Andre Johnson is likely released by the Houston Texans, the Baltimore Ravens should immediately show interest in the seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver. It's just a matter of whether the feeling would be mutual.
Johnson makes sense for the Ravens because of their need at wide receiver if Torrey Smith can't be re-signed and their successful history with aging receivers, from Derrick Mason to Anquan Boldin to Steve Smith Sr. He would represent the first step in the Ravens' offseason makeover of the wide receiver position.
So what are the chances Johnson eventually lands with the Ravens? The odds appear good but not great. There are plenty of reasons you can envision Johnson catching touchdown passes from Joe Flacco, but there are going to be plenty of teams interested in a receiver who has caught at least 85 passes in six of the past seven seasons.
The Indianapolis Colts, Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots are potential suitors for Johnson, and like the Ravens, they can all offer him a shot at winning a Super Bowl. The Colts and Seahawks, both of whom currently have over $25 million in salary-cap space, can offer Johnson more money than the Ravens. And the Colts can offer him two opportunities a year at getting payback with the Texans because both teams are in the AFC South.
This is why the Ravens should be considered candidates to get Johnson, although certainly not the favorites. The Ravens would have to go after Johnson with the same aggressiveness they showed last offseason with Steve Smith. But the Ravens don't have the cap room to outbid teams.
Johnson is the type of good-sized receiver (6-foot-3, 230 pounds) that the Ravens and new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman need. Johnson would seem to be an ideal fit based on how Trestman used two big playmaking targets (Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery) in Chicago.
And unlike a receiver like Marshall (who could also become available), Johnson brings strong hands, toughness, leadership and consistency. Among players with 100 games played, Johnson's average of six catches per game is the highest in NFL history.
Johnson has shown signs of slowing down. His yards per catch has declined each of the past three seasons, and his 11 yards per catch last season was his lowest since 2005. He averaged 62.4 receiving yards per game last season, his least since 2005 and 25 yards less than his 2013 average.
But the Ravens are probably looking at Johnson to be their No. 1 receiver for at least 2015. Owner Steve Bisciotti said the Ravens won't extend themselves financially to keep Torrey Smith, and coach John Harbaugh hinted at reducing Steve Smith's role in 2015 to help keep him from wearing down during the season.
If the Ravens would get Johnson, it would solve their problems only in the short term. The Ravens' top two receivers would be 34 and 36 years old when the season started, increasing the need to draft a receiver. Arizona State's Jaelen Strong and Ohio State's Devin Smith are first-round prospects who could fill Torrey Smith's role as the deep threat and develop into a starter by 2016.
The idea of lining up Johnson, Steve Smith and a playmaking rookie at wide receiver has to be enticing for Flacco and the Ravens. They just have to convince Johnson that his best fit is with the Ravens.