ANDRE JOHNSON was released by the Houston Texans, and projected starting quarterback Ryan Mallett agreed to return to the team yesterday.
A 12-year veteran, Johnson, 33, was a first-round draft pick in 2003. He 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 [yesterday]," 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 for 13,597 yards in his career. He led the NFL in yards in 2008 and '09. His career high came in 2012 when he had 1,598 yards.
Houston also re-signed two of its free agents, cornerback Kareem Jackson and tackle Derek Newton.
The free-agency signing period starts today at 4 p.m.
In related news:
* Safety Devin McCourty says he's returning to the New England Patriots for five more years. His agent confirmed that the deal would pay $47.5 millon, with $28.5 million guaranteed. Also, ESPN reported that the Patriots decided not to pick up cornerback Darrelle Revis's $20 million option, instead allowing him to become a free agent.
* Wide receiver Brian Hartline, released last month by Miami after six seasons, Hartline agreed to terms with Cleveland on a 2-year, $6 million contract. Also, the Browns also tendered a second-round qualifying offer for Pro Bowl safety Tashaun Gipson. Coach Mike Pettine said the Browns remain in play for former Eagles defensive end/linebacker Trent Cole, who spent 2 days visiting the team.
* Green Bay re-signed receiver Randall Cobb. Cobb agreed to a 4-year, $40 million contract over the weekend.
* The Steelers signed linebacker Arthur Moats to a 3-year contract and released 36-year-old defensive end Brett Keisel.
* New Orleans middle linebacker Curtis Lofton says he's been released. Lofton was due $2.65 million in base salary next season.
* Cincinnati kept record-setting kicker Mike Nugent by signing him to a 2-year deal.
* Buffalo re-signed defensive end Jerry Hughes to a 5-year contract with a potential worth of more than $45 million.
* Carolina is bringing back receiver/return man Ted Ginn Jr., who had one of his best seasons with the Panthers in 2013 before signing with Arizona as a free agent last year.
* Seattle reached an agreement with free-agent cornerback Will Blackmon, who spent the last two seasons with Jacksonville.
* San Diego re-signed one of its key free agents, cornerback Brandon Flowers, to a 4-year contract.
* Prospects "look good" for a deal between ex-San Francisco left guard Mike Iupati and the Arizona Cardinals, a source told the Associated Press.
* The New York Jets tendered offers to nose tackle Damon Harrison and safety Jaiquawn Jarrett, both restricted free agents.
* San Francisco fullback Bruce Miller was arrested on spousal battery charges, Northern California authorities said. An arrest log for the Santa Clara police department shows Miller, 28, was arrested last week at an undisclosed location. The 49ers were looking into details, the team said.
* Browns coach Mike Pettine confirmed that quarterback Johnny Manziel, whose disastrous rookie season in Cleveland was followed by him seeking help for an undisclosed issue, remains in a rehab treatment facility. Manziel entered a private facility in Ohio on Jan. 28.
* Cardinals linebacker Alex Okafor was jailed after leading police on a foot chase after a report of a disturbance in downtown Austin, Texas. 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 Longhorn early yesterday, 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. Okafor was charged with evading arrest and released on bond last evening.
* Home surveillance video played for jurors in the murder trial of former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez shows him holding what prosecutors say is a gun and leaving his house with two co-defendants hours before the June 2013 killing of Odin Lloyd.
* New York Jets running back Chris Johnson was uncooperative with deputies in Orlando, Fla., who responded over the weekend to a fatal shooting that left him and a friend with bullet wounds and the driver of their car dead, according to an Orange County Sheriff's Office report released yesterday.
The report also suggested the men may have been at a nightclub before the shooting at a stoplight in Orlando.
Johnson was shot in the right shoulder when someone pulled up next to their Jeep and started firing. His friend, Reggie Johnson, was shot in the triceps and thigh. The driver, Dreekius Oricko Johnson, was wounded in the head. The men are not related.