INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Andre Johnson just wanted a chance to win a championship.
Indianapolis, with Andrew Luck, seemed like the perfect landing spot.
So Wednesday, two days after the Texans released their longtime star, the 33-year-old receiver signed a three-year deal with the Colts. Terms were not immediately available.
Johnson will replace one of his closest friends, Reggie Wayne, and team up with another, Frank Gore, to chase a Super Bowl title.
“That’s what we came here for,” Johnson said when asked if he and former college teammate Gore were the missing pieces.
“Other than that, I don’t know what else to tell you. We came here to win and accomplish that ultimate goal.”
While Johnson fills the void left by Wayne, a 14-year veteran who spent his career in Indy after playing with Johnson at the University of Miami, the circumstances are a bit awkward.
Three years ago, when Wayne was a free agent, Johnson tried to get Wayne to join him in Houston. Instead, Wayne gave Indianapolis a hometown discount.
There was some thought that Wayne would try to talk Johnson into joining the Colts this time, but team owner Jim Irsay announced the Colts would not re-sign Wayne.
“I think it’s just the nature of the business,” Johnson said. “He [Wayne] was very happy, happy for me.”
The 6-foot-3, 230-pound University of Miami star also seems like a perfect fit into the offseason plan of Colts general manager Ryan Grigson, too.
Indy has aggressively pursued proven veterans over the first two days of free agency, landing three new faces — 32-year-old linebacker Trent Cole, 29-year-old defensive end Kendall Langford and Gore, a 31-year-old running back. The Colts also re-signed 34-year-old safety Mike Adams.
Gore’s three-year, $12 million deal, agent Drew Rosenhaus said, includes $6.5 million in bonuses, $7.5 million in guaranteed money and $8.5 million over the first two years.
That, Luck’s presence and the Colts’ playoff plans were enough to convince Gore to back out of a proposed deal with Philadelphia.
“When you play this game, you play this game to win a championship, win a Super Bowl,” Gore said. “We both feel that the Colts have a great chance to get there.
“Each year, every year since Andrew Luck’s been the quarterback, they took a step in the playoffs. I feel like before I leave this game, I want to win a championship. This is the best team, the best situation for me to get there.”
Johnson had exactly the same thought.
After spending all of his previous 12 NFL seasons in Houston with quarterbacks such as Matt Schaub, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallett, T.J. Yates and Case Keenum, Johnson will now get a chance to play with the most talented quarterback of his career.
Johnson still thrived in Houston. He went to seven Pro Bowls, was selected to two All-Pros, had five 100-catch seasons and set Houston’s franchise records for receptions (1,012), yards receiving (13,597) and touchdown catches (64).
He holds the NFL record with 21 games with 10 or more receptions and 100 or more yards receiving. Johnson also has 10 games with at least 10 receptions and 150 yards receiving, tied with Jerry Rice for the most in NFL history.
But the Texans made only two playoff appearances during that time, and Johnson figured his time in Houston was running out.
“It bothered me a little bit because people tell you they want you to be a Texan for life, they want you to retire as a Texan, and then at the end of the year, they let you go,” he said. “But like I said, at the end of the year, I just had kind of a feeling.”
Johnson and Gore flew to Indianapolis on Tuesday night.
Gore agreed to the deal pretty quickly.
Johnson, however, spent the night in Indy before returning to the team complex Wednesday.
One noticeable change: Johnson said he will wear No. 81, not his normal No. 80, because he’s starting a new chapter of his life.
What really convinced Johnson?
He wanted a chance to play with Luck, a promising young group of receivers and on a team with a chance to win a Super Bowl.
“I wanted to be in a place that had a stable quarterback, and I believe Andrew is arguably the best quarterback in the game,” Johnson said. “I just felt like this was the best place where I could win a championship. This is what it’s all about.”