Posted by Ryan Wilson
Still no sign of Chris Johnson in Tennessee. He wants a new contract (he's currently slated to make $800,000), but the Titans say they won't negotiate until he comes to camp. So Johnson remains MIA, even though the new collective bargaining agreement stipulates that if holdouts don't show up by August 9, they could lose a year of accrued free agency.
As CBSSports.com's Josh Katzowitz wrote Tuesday, "Johnson probably isn’t worried about his free agent status because, assuming he gets the long-term deal that he wants, the year he’s losing won’t matter at all."
This assumes, of course, that Johnson gets paid. (While we think Johnson's one of the two best backs in the league, we don't think the Titans should give him "Adrian Peterson money" -- or anything close to it.)
This has to be very troubling for Johnson's teammates, the guys relying on him to help carry this offense in 2011, right? Not if you're talking to Tennessee's new (old) quarterback, Matt Hasselbeck, who will pull down $9 million this year to serve as Jake Locker's mentor and start a few games, too.
Appearing on the Dan Patrick Show, Hasselbeck was asked if he was more concerned about Johnson's holdout or Kenny Britt's string of off-field issues. “I’m not concerned about either one," he said, according to PFT.com.
Turns out, this isn't Hasselbeck's first holdout rodeo.
“I played in Seattle when Walter Jones was doing his holdout thing,” he said. “He was holding out and he’d show up on Wednesday before the first game. And the feeling in the building was, We know Walter Jones is good enough just to show up, and the best part about this is that there’s no chance he gets hurt. No chance someone rolls up on his ankle or knee or whatever. We know that we’re at least going to have him healthy.
"I’ve sort of been there,” he added. “Not stressing about that.”
And Johnson could probably show up the Wednesday before the first game and be productive, too. The difference is that the Seahawks would've been hard-pressed to win without Jones. For as good as Johnson is, the Titans can win without him. (Tennessee won 13 games CJ's rookie season, eight games in 2009 and six games in '10.) That's the nature of the game; you build an offense around a franchise QB and a left tackle who can protect him, not an all-galaxy running back.
We mentioned it last week but it Bears repeating here: the previous eight Super Bowl winners didn't have a high-priced, top-5 running back on the roster. What they did have, however, was a franchise quarterback. Teams can survive without one but not the other.
But hey, we applaud Johnson for his convictions. There's something to be said for not making stuff up.
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