On Tuesday, Titans running back Chris Johnson was headed to Nashville to meet with the organization, ostensibly to discuss a new contract. As for what he was expecting, Johnson was both cryptic and pragmatic, tweeting "Could get better or worst."
Well, according to reports, the two sides have gone their separate ways Wednesday afternoon, no deal has been announced, and no update given as to the status of Johnson's ongoing holdout. Neither Johnson nor his agent Joel Segal, or Titans general manager Mike Reinfeldt, were immediately available for comment, the Associated Press reported.
This is the latest chapter in a saga that has dragged on since training camps began in late July. Johnson hinted during the offseason that he wanted a new contract, and two weeks ago Reinfeldt announced that the team was willing to make Johnson the league's "highest-paid running back." He'd just need Johnson to show up to camp and negotiations would proceed from there.
Seemed reasonable except that Johnson wanted to be one of the NFL's highest-paid players. And even after a face-to-face meeting Wednesday, the impasse continues.
We've argued that Tennessee shouldn't pay Johnson. Not because he's not a great player, but because running backs are fungible. In the Titans' last preseason game, Jamie Harper rushed for 83 yards on 11 carries, and Stafon Johnson added 68 yards on 11 carries.
|Chris Johnson's Holdout|
While we shouldn't make too much of one preseason game, there are countless examples from the regular season, too. Willie Parker, Chris Ivory and Arian Foster immediately come to mind as undrafted backs who got opportunities after players ahead of them were injured.
It's rare that a player holding out for more money has leverage over the team, but the Titans have a rookie quarterback in Jake Locker (though Matt Hasselbeck will likely start the season under center) who will need all the help he can get. And there's the very real chance that the league suspends wide receiver Kenny Britt, Tennessee's second-biggest offensive weapon.
Whether it's enough to force the Titans' hand is another story, especially since the team -- with Johnson on the field -- won six games in 2010 and eight games the year before.
And if he does return before the regular season? Head coach Mike Munchak says Johnson can't just show up and expect 30 touches a game.
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