The Texans defensive back and former second round draft pick joins the Chiefs after Brett Veach traded a 2024 conditional 7th round pick to the Texans.
Charles Robinson @CRob5769
Lead Writer – @ChiefsFocus
By now we all know that Lonnie Johnson, Jr is the newest member of the Chiefs defensive backfield. With the trade going down on Monday, this is news to no one at this point. The bottom line is the Chiefs are getting a young player (26 years old) who is coming off of his best pro season (3 picks in 2021, the first 3 of his career) with a franchise that is in a full rebuild.
Let’s talk about that for a second. The book on Johnson from the Texans fan base has been everything from “Best of luck to him, hope he succeeds in Kansas City” to “He wasn’t a great fit here, but maybe things will work out with a change of scenery” to some categorically comical takes. Takes that I will get to below, but first we have to consider some facts.
Johnson joins a Chiefs team that is coming off of its fourth consecutive trip to the AFC Championship game. Hosting that game, might I add. He will be coming in to (presumably) a cornerbacks room that includes vets L’Jarius Sneed and Rashard Fenton, last year’s newcomer Deandre Baker, and a good crop of rookies including first round pick Trent McDuffie, fourth round pick Joshua Williams, and seventh round pick Jaylen Watson. If Steve Spagnuolo elects to utilize Johnson at the safety position (as the Texans toyed with in 2021), he’ll be reunited with Texans teammate – and noted friend – Justin Reid and will join Juan Thornhill and rookies Bryan Cook and Nazeeh Johnson.
Either way, Johnson will have a mix of vets and rookies in the fold with his new position group in KC, and appears to be a solid culture fit with either group. We’re not talking about units that lack leadership – at the very least Thornhill and Sneed will provide that from a positional perspective, and as a defensive unit overall you have sheriffs like Chris Jones and Frank Clark to set the tone in the locker room from a leadership perspective. This is something that was lacking with a Houston franchise that, again, is in a full rebuild.
Let’s take a look at how they’ve handled that rebuild for just a second though.
In the past 2 years, Houston has gone from a team that had the Chiefs on the ropes in the AFC Divisional playoffs at Arrowhead Stadium (never forget 24-0) to a team that essentially sold the farm. Deshaun Watson wanted out, was accused of several devious acts by numerous women represented by the Texans owner’s neighbor, and has since been traded to the Cleveland Browns.
The Texans let the face of the franchise JJ Watt walk away and join the Arizona Cardinals.
The Texans signed lame duck head coach David Culley, a journeyman who was 65 when he was hired and had never held a job higher than a position coach in the NFL prior to Houston giving him the head job. No fault of his own, but Houston’s intentions of tanking were clear.
The Texans signed Mark Ingram in the offseason last year just to trade him mid-season. A move that caused Texans wide receiver Brandin Cooks to call the trade “bull shit” and “a joke” while he was still with the team and requesting a trade of his own.
During the aforementioned Watson trade demand and holdout (prior to the legal rabbit hole that opened up seemingly as a result), Texans legend Andre Johnson blasted the franchise for it’s actions. “If I’m Deshaun Watson, I will stand my ground. The Texans organization is known for wasting players careers. Since Jack Easterby has walk(ed) into the building nothing good has happened in/for the organizationand for some reason someone can’t seem to see what’s going on. Pathetic!” Johnson said on twitter.
Another former Texans great, Deandre Hopkins, has slammed the franchise numerous times since his departure. Widely regarded as the best receiver in the NFL in his final 2 seasons in Houston, he was traded to the Arizona Cardinals in 2020 for running back David Johnson, a second and a fourth round pick. Put that into context with what the Chiefs got for Tyreek Hill, and you can smell the organizational incompetence through your screen.
Back to the comical tweets I referred to earlier :
It’s comical to me that Texans fans have their head in the sand this deep. Then again, I guess to remain a fan of a team that is so blatantly apathetic and seemingly trying to not be competitive in the AFC South, let alone in comparison to the rest of the AFC, you’d probably have to bury it pretty deep.
The Texans made all of the moves I mentioned above going into and during last season. They “confidently” trotted out Davis Mills last season as a starter in 10 games due to a couple injuries to band-aid QB Tyrod Taylor (no disrespect, but the only reason you start Tyrod Taylor at this point is if you have a Justin Herbert level player waiting in the wings) and this offseason have given Mills the nod as their “QB of the future”. Sure. That sounds like there’s zero chance of this going wrong.
The apathy with which the Texans have been run over the course of the last year and a half is mind blowing. Is the organization trying to turn it around with the hiring of Nick Caserio? Maybe. But the dumpster fire that Bill O’Brien started has been burning for a while, and it’s not yet put out.
To put it simply, the Texans have appeared to be blatantly trying to fail in order to pick up high draft picks. The fact that they pick 3rd overall with the lack of talent they had on the field last year is astonishing, but not when you put it into context. The Texans have been so incompetent that even when they try to fail, they fail at failing.
So who can blame Lonnie Johnson if he was burnt out by this culture of losing? By a fan base that is so scorned by the lackadaisical nature of it’s leadership that all it has to do is complain about players that it deems inadequate? A change of scenery was damn sure needed for Johnson. Will he be a stud for the Chiefs? Who knows, it will depend on how much he buys in and how much work he is willing to put in to improving and competing. One thing is for sure – he’ll have more tools, better leadership, and will be a part of a team he can actually take pride in in Kansas City. The same could not be said for his last year in Houston.