The Texans have tentatively scheduled a press conference with wide receiver Andre Johnson for 1:30 p.m. CT at Reliant Stadium. Head coach Gary Kubiak said Thursday morning that it's his understanding that the Texans are "awful close" to reaching a new deal with the four-time Pro Bowler, which multiple reports indicate would make him the highest-paid receiver in the NFL.
"I think it's a great thing for this organization and for a great person and a hell of a player," Kubiak said of the prospective new deal. "I've been doing this a long time, and he's what this game is all about. I'll always say this about him, but having been here for four years, for him to stay the course with this organization through some tough times says a lot about what Houston means to him. So it's well-deserved, and a great job by (general manager) Rick (Smith) with getting it all worked out. I'm proud of the whole situation."
Last Friday, Texans owner Bob McNair said he expected to get a new deal done with Johnson within a couple of weeks. Johnson has five years remaining on an eight-year contract he signed in 2007. He skipped the first few days of organized team activities in May but put the issue behind him at training camp, showing up on time and without a hint of discord.
The Texans signed another of their key building blocks, fifth-year linebacker DeMeco Ryans, to a long-term deal earlier this offseason.
"(That's) so important," Kubiak said. "You develop a reputation as a organization that people want to be with you and those type of things. The way they're treating these players here and the way they're taking care of their own, to take a player like Andre who meant so much to this organization and to step up like Bob has stepped up, that tells you what he thinks of the player and what he thinks of the direction of the team."
Wide receiver Jacoby Jones summed up what kind of message the organization is sending to players by locking up core players to long-term deals.
"They love us," he said. "And we love them back."
Johnson has led the league in receiving yards in back-to-back seasons, joining Hall of Famer Jerry Rice as the only players to accomplish the feat in modern NFL history. Johnson also is one of two players to record 1,500 receiving yards in consecutive seasons.
"He deserves to be the highest-paid player," wide receiver Kevin Walter said. "Look at the stats and what he does and what he means to this organization, this city and the team. It's big-time. He deserves it."
The third overall pick in the 2003 draft out of Miami (Fla.), Johnson has averaged 77.9 receiving yards per game in his seven seasons with the Texans. That's the highest mark in NFL history among players with at least 100 games played.
"He's been a heck of a player for a number of years, and I'm pumped for him," quarterback Matt Schaub said. "It just shows that this organization, from the top down, we're committed to keeping the players that are the nucleus and the core of this team. For him to get that, it says a lot about the type of player he is… He's a team guy, been here in this organization since year two. I know how bad he wants to bring this town a winner."
Stay tuned for more throughout the day. Johnson's press conference will be streamed live online at HoustonTexans.com.