Johnson attended Miami Senior High School, where he graduated in 1999 and was rated as one of the top prospects in the country. As a senior, Johnson caught 32 passes for 931 yards and was named a Parade All-American.
Johnson enrolled at the University of Miami, where he was a standout wide receiver on the Miami Hurricanes football team from 2000 to 2002. He was co-MVP of the 2002 Rose Bowl, in which the Hurricanes defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers by a score of 37-14 to cap an undefeated season and their fifth national championship. In that game, Johnson connected with quarterback Ken Dorsey for two touchdowns and 199 yards. Johnson finished his college career catching 92 passes for 1,831 yards (19.9-yard average) and 20 touchdowns. His 1,831 receiving yards is ranked fifth on the University of Miami's all-time career list.
Johnson was inducted into the UM Sports Hall of Fame on April 10, 2014 at a ceremony in Miami.
While at Miami, Johnson also ran for the Hurricanes track and field team. In 2002, he won the Big East 60-meter dash with a time of 6.81 seconds at the Big East Indoor Championship and followed that up by winning the 100-meter dash with a career-best time of 10.59 seconds at the Big East Outdoor Championships. He won the 200-meter dash at the 2003 GMAC Championships with a career-best time of 21.48 seconds. Also a top competitor in the 400 meters, he ran a career-best time of 46.47 seconds in the finals of the 2003 FHSAA Class 3A Championships.
Johnson was the number three overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans. He severed ties with NFL agents Michael Huyghue and Jeff Moorad before hiring sports attorney Don West, Jr. to negotiate his rookie contract with the Texans. Johnson was signed to a six-year, $39 million contract and was able to start training camp on time due to a timely contract negotiation. His rookie contract included over $13.501 million in guaranteed compensation.
In Johnson's rookie season, he started and played in all 16 games, recording 66 receptions for 976 yards and four touchdowns. He also recorded five rushes for -10 yards.
Johnson's breakout year came in 2004 when he combined with Texans quarterback David Carr to record 79 catches for 1,142 yards and six touchdowns. He was selected to his first Pro Bowl in recognition of his successful season.
In the 2005 season, however, Johnson regressed. He only played 13 games due to injury and had 63 receptions with 688 yards and two touchdowns as the Texans finished a franchise-worst 2-14. When interviewed in 2012, Johnson said that he was frustrated with the team's struggles, even saying that at times he "didn't want to get up and go to work", but knew that with a new franchise, struggles were expected and he wanted to be there to see the team make the next step.
Johnson returned from injury and started in all 16 games. He led the NFL in receptions with 103 for 1,147 yards and 5 touchdowns and made his second Pro Bowl appearance.
On March 3, 2007, the Texans signed Johnson to a six-year extension; the deal wasworth $60 million and includes $15 million in guarantees.
In 2007, Johnson missed 7 games due to injury. He returned mid-season to finish with 851 receiving yards and a career-high 8 receiving touchdowns. He led the league in receiving yards per game in 2007 with 95.6.
On December 14, 2008, Johnson recorded his first 200-yard game with 207 yards and 1 touchdown in the Texans' 13–12 win over their AFC South rival Tennessee Titans. Johnson finished the 2008 season recording career highs in receptions and receiving yards totaling 115 receptions for 1,575 yards (both of which lead the league) and TD receptions with 8. This same season, Johnson became the first player in NFL history to record 7 games with at least 10 receptions
In 2009, Johnson once again led the league in receiving yards with 1,569 on 101 receptions and a career-high 9 touchdowns to lead the Texans to a 9-7 record, the first winning record in franchise history. Johnson joined Jerry Rice as the only two receivers since the merger to lead the league in receiving yards in consecutive seasons. However, the Texans narrowly missed the playoffs on tiebreakers to the Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets, who also finished 9-7 but had superior conference records.
On August 4, 2010, Johnson became the highest paid wide receiver in NFL history when he signed a two-year contract extension, keeping him under contract through the 2016 season.
On November 28, 2010, Johnson became the first player in NFL history to have 60 or more receptions in each of his first eight seasons. In the same game, he fought Tennessee Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan. After being jammed hard off the line of scrimmage by Finnegan to the head and neck area repeatedly throughout the game, Johnson lost his temper and pulled off Finnegan's helmet. Finnegan then removed and threw Johnson's helmet down-field and was promptly thrown to the ground by his jersey. Johnson then proceeded to strike Finnegan on the back of his head and neck before being pulled away by the referee. Johnson and Finnegan were ejected from the game, but not suspended. Both were fined $25,000 for their unsportsmanlike actions. He was invited to the 2011 Pro Bowl, but the Texans finished 6-10 and missed the playoffs once again.
Things were looking up for the Texans in the 2011 season after the first three weeks, as Johnson had caught 7 passes in each of the first three games for at least 90 yards per game and had two touchdown catches. However, just as running back Arian Foster had returned from a hamstring injury, Johnson suffered one of his own in Week 4 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. In the second quarter, as Johnson caught a pass from Matt Schaub, he went down untouched, grabbing his right hamstring. The injury caused him to miss nine games and playing limited snaps in the other three. Johnson finished the season with career-lows in games played (7), receptions (33), yards (492), and touchdowns (2), but the Texans, in their tenth season in the NFL, made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history by winning the AFC South Division with a 10-6 record.
Johnson made his playoff debut against the Cincinnati Bengals on January 7, 2012. In the game, Johnson had 5 receptions for 90 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown catch. The Texans won 31-10 and advanced to the divisional round where they fell to the Baltimore Ravens 20-13. Johnson caught 8 passes for 111 yards in the losing effort.
On October 14, 2012, Johnson became the first Texan in franchise history to reach the 10,000 receiving yards milestone during a Sunday Night Football loss to the Packers in 2012.
On November 18, 2012, Johnson had the best game of his career in a Week 10 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. He had 14 receptions for 273 yards in that game, including the 48-yard game-winning touchdown in overtime. His receiving total is 9th-most in a game in NFL history and was the most for any receiver since Terrell Owens had 283 yards for the San Francisco 49ers in 2000. On November 22, Johnson had 9 receptions for 188 yards in a Week 11 victory, again in overtime, over the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Thursday, crossing the 1,000 yards receiving mark for the sixth time in his career. Johnson set the NFL record for the highest receiving total in back-to-back games with 461 yards, beating the previous record of 450 yards set by Chad Johnson. Due to Johnson's efforts, he was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Month.
Johnson finished the 2012 NFL season second in receiving yards with a career-high 1,598 yards after Calvin Johnson and fourth in receptions with 112 receptions after Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall, and Wes Welker . Johnson had one of the best seasons of his career even though he played through a groin injury that limited his production during the first half of the season. Many analysts doubted he would not be able to return to top form after his injury in 2011 and his limited production during the first half of the season. Johnson had his third 1,500+ yard season in his career. He is tied with Marvin Harrison for the second-most 1,500+ yard seasons with 3, after Jerry Rice who has 4. Johnson was selected to play in the 2013 Pro Bowl, his sixth selection of his career. Johnson was voted onto the 2012 All-Pro Team's Second Team, his 5th All-Pro selection in his career.
In the 2013 season, Johnson would put together another solid season. He appeared in and started all 16 games for the Texans. He had 109 receptions for 1,407 yards and five touchdowns.
In the 2014 season, Johnson would appear in and start in 15 games. He had 85 receptions for 936 yards and three touchdowns in what would be his final season with the Houston Texans.
On March 2, 2015, Johnson was informed that he would not be starting for the Texans for the 2015 season. He was given permission to seek a trade and if unsuccessful, he requested to be cut. After failing to find a team willing to trade for Johnson, the Texans released him on March 9, 2015.
On March 11, 2015, Johnson agreed to a three-year, $21 million contract with the Indianapolis Colts.
The best game of Johnson's 2015 season came against his former team, the Texans, where he caught six passes for 77 yards and two touchdowns. Johnson was released on March 9, 2016. In his only season with the Colts, Johnson made 41 receptions for 503 yards and four touchdowns.
On July 29, 2016, Johnson agreed to a two-year contract with the Tennessee Titans. In his lone season with the Titans and final season in the NFL, he appeared in only eight games and started four. He had nine receptions for 85 yards and two touchdowns.
Johnson announced his retirement on October 31, 2016. On April 19, 2017, Johnson signed a one day contract with the Texans so he could officially retire as a member of the team. During his farewell press conference he said his only regret was not bringing a championship to Houston and "even when I was with the Colts and the Titans, my heart never left this place."7× Pro Bowl (2004, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013)
2× First-team All-Pro (2008, 2009)
2× Second-team All-Pro (2006, 2012)
3× NFL Alumni Wide Receiver of the Year (2006, 2008, 2009)
2× NFL receiving yards leader (2008, 2009)
3× AFC receiving yards leader (2008, 2009, 2012)
2× AFC Offensive Player of the Month (October 2008, November 2012)
1,000 receptions club
10,000 receiving yards club
Only player in NFL history with 60+ receptions in his first 8 seasons
Most games with 10+ receptions in a season: 7 (tied with Wes Welker and Brandon Marshall)
Most seasons with 100+ receptions: 5 (tied with Wes Welker)
Most seasons with 100+ receptions and 1,400+ yards: 4
Most games with 10+ receptions
Most career receptions (1,012)
Most career receiving yards (13,597)
Most career receiving touchdowns (64)
Most receptions in a single season: 115 (2008)
Most receiving yards in a single season: 1,598 (2012)
Most seasons with 100+ receptions: 5
Best receiving yards per game average (season): 99.9 (2012)
Most starts: 169
In 2003, Johnson's rookie season, he founded the Andre Johnson Foundation for children and teens growing up in single-parent homes. He has a daughter, Kylie, who was born in February 2010.
On December 4, 2012, Johnson made headlines around the world when it was shared that he spent over $19,000 for kids aged 8–16 in Child Protective Services to have a shopping spree at Toys R' Us. Johnson's own foundation, the Andre Johnson Charitable Foundation, funded the spree. The shopping spree is an event that Johnson partakes in yearly; however, due to a photo of him holding up lengthy receipts, this was the first year the shopping spree generated worldwide attention. After the spree, Johnson also joined the Houston Police Department's Blue Santa program to surprise 800 students at Houston's Bastian Elementary School with Christmas presents.