Monday's roundup: Texans release Johnson, keep Mallett

Detroit News wire services

Andre Johnson was released by the Houston Texans, and quarterback Ryan Mallett agreed to return to the team on Monday.

A 12-year veteran, Johnson, the longest-tenured Texan, was a first-round draft pick in 2003, joining the expansion team in its second season.

Johnson, 33, had 85 catches for 936 yards last season, but the Texans were beginning to see DeAndre Hopkins as their top receiving threat.

"After exhausting all options of a possible trade, we informed Andre Johnson that he would be released (Monday)," general manager Rick Smith said. "No player in the history of this franchise has represented the team, city and community in a more professional way. Andre is a Hall of Fame caliber player and we appreciate his years of service and contributions to our team."

Johnson is a seven-time Pro Bowler with seven 1,000-yard receiving seasons and has 1,012 receptions with 13,597 yards receiving in his career.

He led the NFL in yards receiving in 2008 and 2009. His career high came in 2012 when he had 1,598 yards receiving and the Texans reached the playoffs for the second time.

"Andre carried himself as a true professional and did everything that we asked him to do," coach Bill O'Brien said. "Andre will go down as one of the best receivers to ever play this game. We are thankful for what he has done for our organization and wish him well on his future playing career."

Johnson played on just four teams with winning records and went through two 2-14 seasons with the Texans. He also had more than his fair share of quarterback woes. It started with the struggles of David Carr, included Matt Schaub performing so poorly in 2013 that he was benched, and playing with four signal callers last season alone.

But Johnson was also there for the best times of this young franchise, helping the Texans to back-to-back AFC South titles and trips to the playoffs in 2011 and 2012. He had 25 receptions for 358 yards in four career playoff games.

It looked like he might be gone last season after he wondered if Houston "was still the place for me" before skipping all of the team's offseason work. He returned in time for training camp and as late as December he said he wanted to spend his entire career in Houston.

"I don't want to play for nobody else … I don't even think it would feel right," he said then.

But after the Texans told him recently they didn't see him as their top receiver anymore, he'd had enough and asked to be released or traded.

The move is a blow for longtime Texans fans who have always seen Johnson as the face of the franchise, even with the emergence of star defensive end J.J. Watt. Johnson was sitting courtside at a Houston Rockets game last week when he was introduced and received a standing ovation from the sellout crowd as Whitney Houston's song "I Will Always Love You" played and he waved to the crowd.

Johnson is second among active players and 12th all-time in career yards receiving. His 64 career touchdown receptions are 10th among active players and his 80.5 yards receiving a game are fourth among active players.

He's fifth with 51 career 100-yard receiving games and holds an NFL record with 21 career games with at least 10 receptions and 100 or more yards receiving.

Houston also re-signed two of its free agents, cornerback Kareem Jackson and tackle Derek Newton.

Mallett has agreed to terms on a two-year contract with the Texans, another person familiar with the contract told the AP. The deal is worth $7 million over two years, with $1.75 million guaranteed. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the contract.

Mallett, who played at Michigan before transferring to Arkansas, joined Houston last year in a trade with New England. A third-round draft pick by the Patriots in 2011, he appeared in only four games for them as Tom Brady's backup. But he started twice in three appearances for Houston before tearing a pectoral muscle and missing the rest of the season.

He's projected as the 2015 starter for the Texans, who also have Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tom Savage under contract and have shown interest in free agent Brian Hoyer, a Michigan State product.

Jackson comes off a strong season. He was drafted by the Texans 20th overall in 2010 and has started 71 of 74 games. Last year, in 13 games, he was the team's top coverage defensive back and had 57 tackles (48 solo), nine passes defensed and three interceptions, including a career-high two in a Week 16 win over Baltimore.

"We definitely did some good things last year and I'm definitely eager to continue to build on what we started last year," Jackson said.

Newton has appeared in 60 games since being selected in the seventh round in 2011, including starting the last 46 games he's played in at right tackle.

Cardinals' Okafor, 49ers' Miller in trouble

Arizona Cardinals linebacker Alex Okafor was jailed in Texas after leading police on a foot chase after a report of a disturbance in downtown Austin.

Austin police Cpl. David Boyd says officers checking a report of a disturbance in Austin's downtown entertainment district tried to question the ex-Texas Longhorns star early Monday, only to have him dart away on foot.

Officers were able to catch Okafor and determined that he had been named in an outstanding misdemeanor warrant. However, Boyd had no other information on the charge contained in the warrant.

Okafor was charged with evading arrest and released on bond Monday evening.

... San Francisco 49ers fullback Bruce Miller was arrested on spousal battery charges, Northern California authorities said Monday.

An arrest log for the Santa Clara police department shows the 28-year-old Miller was arrested last week at an undisclosed location.

The 49ers were looking into details, the team said Monday.

"The San Francisco 49ers organization is aware of the matter involving Bruce Miller," general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement. "We were disappointed to learn of these reports and will do our due diligence in collecting all relevant information."

Miller didn't immediately return a call for comment.

Steelers release Keisel

Brett Keisel, who has said he wants to play in 2015, won't play for the Steelers, after they released the defensive end who spent all 13 of his seasons in the NFL with them.

"We have had conversations with Brett over the past couple of weeks, during which we communicated our intentions to him," general manager Kevin Colbert said in a statement.

The Steelers waited to sign Keisel until late in training camp last season after he became an unrestricted free agent a year ago. He started four games and played in 12. He had one sack, six passes defensed and 22 total tackles in 12 games before a torn triceps Nov. 30 put him on injured reserve and ended his season.

Rams release Jake Long

The St. Louis Rams released veteran offensive linemen Jake Long (Michigan) and Scott Wells on the eve of free agency.

Both players have been injury-prone.

Offensive line was a target in free agency for St. Louis before making the moves Monday. A third lineman, tackle Joe Barksdale, is an unrestricted free agent.

Long missed nine games last season with a second torn ACL. Wells started every game but was hampered throughout by an arm injury that had him wearing a brace much of the year.

Wells started 35 games in three seasons and Long made 22 starts in two seasons.

Personnel dept.

The Browns tendered a qualifying offer to Pro Bowl safety Tashaun Gipson and three other defenders before the free agency signing period begins.

The Browns also reached a two-year $6 million agreement with wide receiver Brian Hartline.

... A person familiar with the negotiations says prospects "look good" for a deal between ex-49ers left guard Mike Iupati and the Cardinals.

... The Eagles have agreed to a four-year contract with linebacker Brandon Graham (Michigan).

... The Bengals kept kicker Mike Nugent by signing him to a two-year deal.

... Panthers wide receiver/returner Ted Ginn Jr. agreed to a 2-year contract.