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Tag:Chris Johnson
Posted on: August 26, 2011 8:50 am
 

Podcast: Newton vs. Dalton, Fouts on young QBs

Posted by Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

Dan Fouts joins the show to talk about today's young quarterbacks -- Cam Newton, Tim Tebow, Terrelle Pryor -- as well as concussions and the new kickoff rule.

Will and Ryan also break down Thursday night's preseason action, discussing whether Newton looked good enough to take the starting gig in Carolina, and if Andy Dalton is improving as fast as it appeared -- or he just looked like it relative to Newton. (CBSSports.com's Clark Judge was at the game and he's not sure Newton's ready for what he's about to face.)

Then there's the ongoning Chris Johnson saga in Tennessee, the quarterback competion between Rex Grossman and John Beck in DC, whether the Ravens' offensive line can keep Joe Flacco upright, if the Steelers did the right thing in signing Lawrence Timmons before Troy Polamalu and much, much more.

Conversatin' starts … now (and while we have you, remember to subscribe to the podcast via iTunes). If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.



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Posted on: August 25, 2011 8:05 pm
 

Munchak: Titans not trading Chris Johnson

Posted by Will Brinson

The Titans and Chris Johnson had a little pow-wow in Nashville recently, and things -- to quote CJ2K himself -- got "worst." Johnson departed the meeting without any deal and it sure seems now like his holdout could last into the season.

This has many people wondering if the Titans would trade one of the top running backs in the game. In fact, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported Thursday that Johnson's camp could seek a trade as its next step. But according to Titans coach Mike Munchak, it'll probably be fruitless of them to do so.

"I would think we wouldn’t do anything. We would think he is under contact for two more years; he is going to be a Titan, hopefully longer than that,”"Munchak Thursday, per Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean. "I don't think that is anything we’d give any consideration to.

"He is with us, one way or the other, and hopefully it is on the field."

Chris Johnson's Holdout

Munchak also added that the Titans front office "hadn't talked about" a potential trade involving Johnson.

And that's probably true, and there are a number of reasons. For starters, who the hell is going to be able to meet a) whatever bounty the Titans want in exchange and b) whatever salary demands Johnson has once he arrives in his new camp.

The answer is "almost no one." After all, if you thought the Kevin Kolb trade the Cardinals made was a doozy, imagine what it would take to move Johnson.

Plus, Bud Adams isn't the type of owner, as noted by his recent quotes, to just cave to Johnson, particularly after a lengthy lockout that eventually yielded a CBA which was specifically designed to punish players that held out.

There's still probably a good chance that we end up seeing Johnson squeeze a little more cash out the Titans as Labor Day approaches, but expecting them to give him "Manning money" just to get him on the field is an unrealistic proposition.

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Posted on: August 24, 2011 5:03 pm
Edited on: August 25, 2011 7:13 am
 

Titans, Chris Johnson end meeting without deal

Posted by Ryan Wilson

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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Posted on: August 23, 2011 2:54 pm
Edited on: August 23, 2011 3:28 pm
 

Chris Johnson to meet with Titans GM Reinfeldt

Posted by Will Brinson

The Chris Johnson holdout saga has reached somewhat of a breaking point. We're now just a few weeks away from Tennessee's season opener and not only is a deal "not close" but Titans owner Bud Adams is expressing frustration at the running backs' refusal to play.

So here's some potentially good -- or potentially "worst" -- news: Johnson is flying to Nashville Wednesday with his agent to meet with Titans GM Mike Reinfeldt.

"Flying out to Nashville tonight to meet with Joel and the GM in the morning to see which way were going," Johnson tweeted on Tuesday afternoon. "Could get better or worst."

So, yeah, no real "news" in terms of whether or not Johnson and Joel Segal (his agent) are actually going to make progress with the Titans on a new deal.

However, Johnson is actually showing up in Nashville, even if it's only to get in a conference room war of words about how much money currently divides the two sides.

So that's good news. In theory.

Chris Johnson's Holdout

Our own Ryan Wilson has made a compelling argument why the Titans shouldn't pay Johnson and it's hard to fault his the logic. Basically: Johnson's a running back and regardless of how talented and explosive a playmaker he may be, he's got a short shelf life and is much more replaceable than other players in the league.

The Titans surely know this and regardless of whether or not Johnson's saved up his money while expecting a lengthy holdout, are probably not willing to destroy their salary cap for the foreseeable future in order to make Johnson happy and get him into camp.

At the same time, there's no doubt that Johnson is one of the few true gamechangers at his position and arguably the most dynamic running back in the NFL.

He's been vastly underpaid to this point in his career and seems willing to do whatever's necessary to ensure he gets his money now. Whether or not either side is willing to compromise will determine whether things gets better or worst.

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Posted on: August 23, 2011 10:53 am
 

Podcast: Favre to Colts, Fitz' contract, T-Pryor

Posted by Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

You'll never believe this, but there are rumors about Brett Favre going to the Colts because Peyton Manning is hurt. In Monday's podcast (yes, we're running behind), we take a look at that silliness, discuss Jim Irsay's love of Steely Dan and debate when Peyton Manning will actually return to action.

We also discuss the new contract for Larry Fitzgerald, whether it was a good deal or not, if the Cardinals were wise to spend that much on a wide receiver and how it affects Chris Johnson's would-be deal with the Titans, talk about Terrelle Pryor's status (we actually recorded before the supplemental draft but knew he was going to the Raiders anyway) and much, much more.

Yapping starts … now (and while we have you, remember to subscribe to the podcast via iTunes). If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.




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Posted on: August 21, 2011 3:52 pm
Edited on: August 21, 2011 4:30 pm
 

Titans say new deal with Chris Johnson not close

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Titans running back Chris Johnson hinted during the lockout that he wanted a new contract. And he came right out and said it once owners and players agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement. Johnson has yet to show up to training camp, and despite Tennessee general manager Mike Reinfeldt saying the team is ready to make him the NFL's "highest-paid running back," it sounds like Johnson's looking for something more than that.

Good news: Johnson returned to Nashville Saturday. Bad news: it wasn't to meet with the team -- he was in town for personal business.

In fact, the Titans say the two sides aren't even close to a new deal.

“We’ve discussed parameters," Reinfeldt told the Tennessean's Jim Wyatt before the team played the Rams Saturday. "If we can’t agree on the parameters, there’s no sense making offers. If your parameters are different … and if you are talking a different language then you are wasting your time. We’ve talked to his agent and will continue to talk to his agent.”

Also not helping things: Saturday night's announcement that the Cardinals gave Larry Fitzgerald, one of the league's best wide receivers, a shiny, new eight-year, $120 million contract that included $50 million in guarantees.

This prompted CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman to write, "You don't give that kind of guaranteed money to a wide receiver. Quarterbacks, yes. … A wide receiver? That's idiotic. Maybe a left tackle. Emphasis on maybe. Maybe a pass rusher. Emphasis on maybe. But not a wideout.

Chris Johnson's Holdout

"Fitzgerald is a future Hall of Famer, a hard worker, and someone who comes from good family," Freeman continued. "He's a leader. He deserves a huge payday but you don't give a wideout quarterback money in a salary cap league. Fitzgerald alone now occupies some 12 percent of Arizona's salary cap."

We've expressed similar views about Johnson. Namely that, even though he's one of the league's two best running backs, Tennessee shouldn't break the bank to keep him.

Johnson and his agent likely have a different view, and it could mean that signing him will be even more difficult for the Titans. Shortly after Fitzgerald's new contract was announced Johnson and Fitzgerald went back and forth on Twitter:
  • Johnson: "Congrats to @LarryFitzgerald god is good."
  • Fitzgerald: "thanks CJ you up next my guy." 
  • Johnson: "Yes sir." 
In Johnson's absence, backup running backs Jamie Harper and Stafon Johnson played well. Harper rushed for 83 yards on 11 carries and scored a touchdown; Johnson added 68 yards on 11 carries. Each players ripped off long runs from scrimmage (a 46-yarder for Harper, a 29-yarder for Johnson), and the Titans finished with 198 rushing yards in their 17-16 loss to the Rams.

We don't expect one performance by two backups as reason enough to prompt Johnson to the negotiating table. But it's further evidence that running backs, in general, play the most fungible position on the field.

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Posted on: August 16, 2011 9:49 pm
 

Why the Titans shouldn't pay Chris Johnson

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Chris Johnson wants to get paid. We don't blame him. It's just that the Titans can't do it. Not because they're cheap, or Johnson is undeserving, but because running backs are fungible. We're not willing to say they're a dime a dozen, but it's close.

Look, there's no disputing that Johnson and Adrian Peterson are the two best running backs in the NFL. But the difference between them and the NFL's 32nd-best back is negligible when compared to the differences between, say, Tom Brady or Peyton Manning and whoever your candidate is for the league's worst starting quarterback. The same holds for wide receivers, left tackles, cornerbacks, safeties -- basically every position but running back.

So why is that?

For starters, the shelf life for a top-flight running back is remarkably short. A study by Doug Drinin of Pro-Football-Reference.com found that RBs usually decline by age 28, WRs by age 30 and QBs by age 32.

In a story published in January 2005 in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Carl Prine explained that the sheer brutality of the position coupled with overuse has also played a role.

"The average career of an NFL back is 2.6 years and falling, according to the National Football League Players' Association. Players, coaches and historians interviewed by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review blamed the mayfly careers of rushers on the … high number of carries they get in an age of free agency," Prine wrote. "Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, teams rarely asked their backs to touch the ball more than 230 times in a season.

"Historically, every time a player gets more than that many touches in a season, his production declines the following year by 50 fewer carries and 1.2 fewer games. Nearly three out of every five of these backs are out of the league within four years."

Then there's the research by FootballOutsiders.com which suggests that rushing success is more dependent on the offensive line, but pass protection is more dependent on the quarterback. Put differently: teams can find productive running backs -- no matter when they were drafted (or if they were drafted at all) or how much they're making -- if a good offensive line is already in place. A great quarterback, however, can mask an o-line's shortcomings.

(See Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger, for examples. They play two totally different styles -- Manning relies on his ability to assess defenses and quickly get the ball out of his hands; Roethlisberger takes hits, extends plays and waits for his receivers to come open.)

A great running back, in general, is wasted on a mediocre offensive line.

Chris Johnson's Holdout

So what does this mean for the Titans? General manager Mike Reinfeldt said last week that the organization is willing to make Johnson the league's highest-paid back. Johnson is looking for something more than that. This is certainly his prerogative. After all, he's rushed for more yards since 2008 than anybody in the league.

That also means Johnson logged a lot of carries, too. In three seasons, he's carried the ball 251, 358 and 316 times. Johnson's yards per carry have gone from 4.9 to 5.6 to 4.3 over that time. And whether you believe in the Curse of 370 or not (basically, the theory states that if a RB carries the ball roughly 370 times or more in the regular season he will usually suffer a major injury or drop in productivity the following season), there's no disputing that Johnson wasn't nearly as effective in 2010 as he was in 2009.

It's not altogether surprising that Johnson wasn't able to duplicate his 2009 numbers (2,006 rushing yards, 14 TDs, 503 receiving yards), but he wasn't even close. He finished with 1,364 rushing yards, his yards-per-carry dropped by 1.3 to 4.3, and he had 258 fewer receiving yards.

More than that: even with his jaw-dropping performance in '09, the Titans won eight games and missed the playoffs. In 2010, they won just six times.

We could blame that on the precarious quarterback situation, but that's our point.

Here's what FootballOutsiders.com president and ESPN.com columnist Aaron Schatz told CBSSports.com about Johnson's demands for a substantial pay bump. "When was the last time a team with a big-name, big-money back went to the Super Bowl, or even had the best regular-season record in the league? I suppose the 2009 Vikings came close. Otherwise, do you have to go back to the 2005 Seahawks? The best offenses in the modern NFL simply aren't built around a single running back."

Ah yes, the 2005 Seahawks. Here's what we wrote earlier this summer about Shaun Alexander: 

"The Seahawks re-signed Alexander to an eight-year, $62 million deal in 2006, six years into his career. At the time, it was the largest contract ever signed by a running back. Alexander, who had 370 carries for 1,880 yards (27 TDs) in '05, managed just 896 yards on 252 carries (7 TDs) in '06. He gained 716 yards a year later, and by 2008 he was out of the league." 

Johnson does have supporters, however. CBSSports.com's Gregg Doyel wrote last week that paying him is the right thing to do.

And Jerome Bettis, one of the most bruising running backs in the modern era, also thinks the Titans have to pony up for Johnson.

"You've got to have a feature [back] because what happens is that when you have that one guy, he becomes a threat all over the field and the defense has to respond to him a lot differently," Bettis told CBSSports.com last week. "I think that's where the difference comes in in terms of a feature back."

But Bettis thinks Johnson's worth to the Titans transcends what he's able to do on a football field.

"The problem is, if you lose [Johnson], now what do you have? You gotta have two things," Bettis continued. "In the absence of a quality football team, you've got to have a superstar for people to come see. If you don't have the quarterback, you better have the running back. If you don't have a quarterback and you don't have a running back then you don't have fans in the seats.

"You can load your team up with players, but who's going to come watch them? Because the NFL is run by superstars … and when you don't have that therein lies the problem. So [Johnson] is not only worth money ... just necessarily (for what he does) on the field, but off the field as well because you don't have the quarterback to position as your franchise guy."

And this is the dilemma facing the Titans. Do they pay Johnson because of not only what he means to the team but to the surrounding area and fan base? Or does the organization try to put butts in seats by using that large chunk of change to shore up other positions?

This reminds us of something Schatz wrote as part of his "Football Outsiders Basics" series: "By and large, a team built on depth is better than a team built on stars and scrubs. … Every team will suffer injuries; the only question is how many. The game is too fast and the players too strong to build a team based around the idea that 'if we can avoid all injuries this year, we'll win.'"

If you're still not convinced, how about this (from something we wrote earlier this month): "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." 

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Posted on: August 15, 2011 7:09 pm
Edited on: August 16, 2011 10:13 am
 

Chris Johnson not likely to show up any time soon

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Apparently, Titans RB Chris Johnson doesn’t just want top-tier running back money in order to end his holdout from Tennessee camp. He wants top-tier NFL player money. That’s the word from ESPN.com, which reports that there are no signs the Johnson-Titans impasse will end anytime soon.

Johnson's Contract Journey
Although the Titans have stated they’re willing to make Johnson the highest-paid RB in the league -- if you were looking for comparisons, Adrian Peterson will make $10.7 million this year, and the Panthers gave DeAngelo Williams $21 million guaranteed this offseason -- they actually haven’t made a formal offer to Johnson’s agent.

Meanwhile, Johnson, whose base salary for 2011 is $800,000, says he wants $30 million guaranteed for his next contract, and he’s willing to lose a year of accrued free agency to do it. It should be noted that Tennessee gave Johnson a raise to end his holdout last year, so when the Titans say they won’t negotiate with Johnson if he’s not in camp, it’s questionable whether they mean it.

Especially since we all know how important Johnson is to their cause.

Otherwise, the Titans will feature Javon Ringer, who hurt himself in Tennessee’s first preseason game and missed Monday's practice, as their starting RB. Which might not be a terrible thing, because it seems like the coaching staff and players are impressed at Ringer’s talent (even if the awesomeness of Johnson has blocked most everybody else from seeing it).

But Tennessee also doesn’t know exactly what it’s getting if the Titans need to get him 25 carries a game. With Johnson, they do.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com