On Monday, the Texans gave Johnson and McGuire permission to seek a trade after the veteran receiver had been told that his role would diminish. "He looks forward to challenging for a Super Bowl," McGuire said at the time.
Johnson's contract, however, would have made it difficult to be traded as he is owed $11.5 million in 2015 and $12 million in 2016, including a $1 million roster bonus in both seasons.
His 2014 salary was supposed to include that same $1 million roster bonus, but he forfeited it by skipping the Texans' offseason programs and mandatory minicamp. He held out until the start of training camp, hoping to have his contract guaranteed and feel more secure in his role with the Texans.
Currently, Johnson counts for about $16.1 million against the 2015 salary cap. The Texans would save $8.825 million in salary-cap space if they released Johnson before June 1.
Johnson is the longest-tenured player for the Texans, having been drafted third overall in 2003, the expansion franchise's second draft. Since then, he has become the best offensive player in the history of a franchise that lacked stability at quarterback. In his time with the Texans, he has caught 1,012 passes on 1,599 targets for 13,597 yards.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Johnson is one of four players in NFL history to play for only one franchise and have 1,000 career receptions. The others are Marvin Harrison (1,102 catches for the Colts), Reggie Wayne (1,070, Colts) and Hines Ward (1,000, Steelers).
Four players in NFL history played for a new team when they already had 1,000 career receptions: Jerry Rice (Raiders and Seahawks), Cris Carter (Dolphins), Tim Brown (Buccaneers) and Terrell Owens (Bengals).
Pro Football Talk had earlier reported that Johnson's agent asked for his client to be released.