Steve Johnson, the wide receiver out of Buffalo, wants to be paid like a league #1 in 2012.
After coming into the league in the 7th round of the 2008 draft, Johnson has worked hard to make himself an important part of an anemic offense with the Bills. Not only has he made himself the primary target of Ryan Fitzpatrick, but he made sure that the offense didn’t skip a beat with the departure of Lee Evans after 2010.
Johnson, while not the perfect #1 receiver, received a lot of attention this past year with the strong opening of the Bills. Despite the team faltering to a 6-10 season (after starting 4-1), Johnson still posted a respectable 1,004 yards. Averaging above 13 yards per reception for the second season in a row.
Johnson’s size 6’2″, 210 pounds make him a solid #2 receiver. His consistent numbers and ability to catch the balls coming off his route consistently (Something the Jags desperately need) make him reliable. A reliable receiver is necessary for Gabbert to continue his development and not get down on his game at such an early stage of his career.
Johnson’s play the last two seasons, averaging over 60 yards a game make him a dependable #2. Nobody debates that he is a good receiver, but teams do debate whether he is worthy of #1 receiver money. Many people argue that he isn’t, but Johnson argues that he is. Johnson could be a good pickup for the Jags even if they pay him #1 money and get a solid #2 to start opposite someone like Vincent Jackson (please, please sign him!).
The main points are that Johnson increases the depth for the Jags at the receiving position and sets the team up for success in the future. Not only did Johnson perform in his contract year, but he has also performed well when given the opportunity to be a bigger part of the offense. Johnson looks and acts like a strong receiver that can perform in any role given to him. If the Jags give him a bigger piece of the offense, then I think he’ll fill the void. He is a hard worker that knows he needs to perform to get paid. I like his attitude and I like his play.
Coming toward free agency, I think that Steve Johnson would be either the second or third best signing for the Jags at receiver. Vincent Jackson is a true #1, but Johnson is a true #n (that means anything). With Mike Thomas in the slot, someone else at #1 or Johnson at #1, the Jags are set for a while.
It helps that Johnson is a mere 25 years old and will only be 26 this coming season. With Johnson the Jags won’t just be getting a quick fix at wide receiver, they will be getting a staple that they can rely on for years to come. The upside of Johnson is exponential and the Bills will be greatly hurt by his departure.
Hopefully their loss will be turned into the Jaguars’ gain.
– Luke N. Sims