Tag:Chris Johnson
Posted on: August 11, 2011 5:15 pm
Edited on: August 11, 2011 7:21 pm

Titans ready to make Johnson 'highest-paid RB'?

Posted by Ryan Wilson

UPDATE 6:30 p.m.: Via the Twitter feed of Titans' beat reporter Jim Wyatt: "Asked about being offered a deal after lockout, Johnson said: 'Maybe they talked, but I guarantee we never received any offer.'" 


Titans running back Chris Johnson wants a new contract. Given that he's one of the two best running backs in the league and is set to make just $800,000 in 2011, he's right. The problem, at least until Thursday, is that Tennessee general manager Mike Reinfeldt said that the club wasn't willing to negotiate with Johnson until he ended his holdout. As of this writing, Johnson has been a no-show at training camp, even when faced with the possibility of losing a year of accrued free agency.

We've long been of the opinion that the Titans shouldn't pay Johnson "Adrian Peterson money," even if he's worth it because, in general, running backs are fungible. You can find productive players for a fraction of the cost with either late(r)-round draft picks or the waiver wire.

CBSSports.com's Gregg Doyel disagrees with us, and luckily for Johnson, it sounds like Reinfeldt does, too.

According to the Associated Press Thursday, Reinfeldt wants to make Johnson the NFL's highest-paid running back, he just needs Johnson to show up first.

The AP also reports that Johnson's agent was the first person Reinfeldt called once the lockout ended, and Reinfeldt says that the two sides have already talked about the parameters of a new deal for Johnson, and they'd like to get him in training camp to learn new head coach Mike Munchak's new offense while negotiations are finished.

We're not sure if Reinfeldt is performing the one-man version of "Good Cop, Bad Cop," or if he suddenly felt compelled to take his message public, but either way, the timing seems odd.

Surely, Johnson and his agent knew that the Titans wanted the running back in camp before any new deal was drawn up, but at the same time, if Tennessee deems Johnson so important to their future, why don't they go ahead and, you know, make him the "NFL's highest-paid back?" Especially when Johnson made it clear that last year was the "last time (I'll report to camp) without me having a long-term deal. … It won't happen again."

And so far, he's kept his word.

The problem for the Titans, assuming they consider Johnson an integral part of their offense (and it sure seems that they do), is that either Matt Hasselbeck or Jake Locker will be under center. One's a grizzled veteran; the other the franchise's future, and both are in dire need of a running game to insure they don't get clobbered on a regular basis.

It's seldom the case that a player has leverage in a drawn-out contract dispute, but Johnson seems to be in pretty good shape right about now.

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Posted on: August 11, 2011 4:27 pm

Hot Routes 8.11.11: Osi could return Monday

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

  • Looks like Chargers LT Marcus McNeil will miss the first two preseason games after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to remove bone spurs from his knee. "It’s one of those things if you were working through May and June," Norv Turner said, "some of that gets out of the way earlier.”
  • Steelers rookie Baron Batch tore his ACL at practice Wednesday, and the Pittsburgh Post Gazette wonders if it occurred because the team practiced on artificial turf. Remember, Heinz Field is natural grass, because the Steelers believe it cuts down on injuries.
  • As we’ve all been taught, pimping ain’t easy. Especially if you’re the guy who set up Lawrence Taylor with his prostitute.
  • After being suspended for all of last year for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, former Falcons DB Jimmy Williams has been reinstated by the league.
  • The Dolphins would prefer their fans NOT to post videos of practice online, thanks very much. You know, the whole competitive disadvantage thing.

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Posted on: August 10, 2011 1:50 pm

Hasselbeck not worried by Chris Johnson's absence

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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Posted on: August 9, 2011 12:47 pm
Edited on: August 10, 2011 5:40 am

Chris Johnson still hasn't reported to camp

JohnsonPosted by Josh Katzowitz

With the new CBA rules stipulating that if holdouts don’t show up by August 9 they would lose a year of accrued free agency, that clause hasn’t stopped Titans RB Chris Johnson from not showing up for practice Tuesday.

Which means that Johnson loses his year. Which also means that it’s pretty clear Johnson doesn’t care about it -- unlike, say, Eagles WR DeSean Jackson, who reported Monday so he wouldn’t lose the season.

But as ESPN.com points out, Johnson probably isn’t worried about his free agent status because, assuming Johnson gets the long-term deal that he wants, the year he’s losing won’t matter at all.

The problem with Johnson’s approach, though, is that the Titans have been pretty clear that they won’t negotiate with Johnson if he’s not in camp. Johnson is set to make a base salary of $800,000 this year and $2.21 million for 2012 (he did get a nice pay raise to convince him to report last season), but since he’s in the absolute prime of his career (for a RB, anyway), Johnson feels like this is the time he needs to get paid.

And he’s probably right about that, though whether it’s a good idea to give a RB the $30 million guaranteed contract Johnson said last year that he feels he deserves isn’t so clear cut. But Johnson is also correct in thinking that Tennessee will get a hell of a deal to pay him only $3 million for the final two years of his contract and that the Titans need to up the ante in order to make happy one of the best runners in the league.

And if the Titans thought they had any kind of leverage over Johnson in the accrued free agency deadline, it looks like that notion was incorrect.

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Posted on: August 7, 2011 1:10 pm

Finnegan takes to Twitter to explain absence

Posted by Ryan Wilson

On Saturday, Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan missed a mandatory meeting, and Yahoo! Sports reported that Finnegan left training camp Friday night, upset about a contract that will pay him $3.7 million in 2011.

Titans general manager Mike Reinfeldt told the Tennessean's Jim Wyatt that "We were totally surprised he turned around and left camp," adding that Finnegan's "disappointing" move wouldn't help him land a new deal.

Funny story: Finnegan fired up his Twitter Machine to set the record straight. He's not angry about his contract, he went missing from Titans training camp to attend to personal matters.

"My absence had nothing to do with a holdout yet a personal matter that Titan officials were aware of," Finnegan tweeted Sunday.

"I am grateful for being a Titan … I am also thankful for my current contract and direction of team. It's obvious media had no idea of why my absence took place. … I have spoken with coaches and teammates and will resume all things asked. Sad to see media made this out to be about money when I'm happy."

More Finnegan: "Media gets paid to report never knowing but one side of a story. My personal issues needed attention and I will be out there playing ball."

Interesting. Head coach Mike Munchak told the Tennessean that he didn't know Finnegan had left camp until he was a no-show for a Saturday-morning meeting.

“Disappointed is probably the easiest word," Munchak said before Finnegan took to Twitter. "It is not something we expected. You obviously want your best players here, and you want them to be your leaders. So it is unfortunate whatever is going on, that is as much as I am going to say about it. We expected him to be here when we woke up and be a part of practice, and he decided not to be and we had to go on from there.”

So, nothing to see here, at least according to Finnegan. Now the Titans can concentrate their efforts on convincing Chris Johnson to report to training camp.

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Posted on: August 2, 2011 10:19 pm
Edited on: August 3, 2011 9:44 am

Podcast: Chris Kluwe Talks Music, McNabb and more

Posted by Eye on Football Staff

Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, who you may remember as one of the only players to call out four of the named plaintiffs in the Brady v. the NFL lawsuit, joins the podcast to talk about -- what else -- his lockout comments.

Kluwe also weighs in on his band, Tripping Icarus (you can download their music from iTunes here and listen at their Myspace page here), giving up his No. 5 to new Vikings QB Donovan McNabb, and the fact that we now have actual football.

Co-hosts Will Brinson and Ryan Wilson then break down Randy Moss' retirement, the various free agency comings and goings around the league, whether the Eagles are the "Miami Heat of the NFL," and if Chris Johnson is worth "Adrian Peterson money."

Talking starts below. (Just hit the play button and don't forget to Subscribe via iTunes.)

Posted on: August 1, 2011 10:14 am

Johnson wants new deal, Titans want him in camp

Posted by Ryan Wilson

With all the excitement about there finally being football, and the subsequent frenetic pace to free agency and the start of training camps, it's easy for some story lines to get lost in the mix.

Take the Titans, for example. They signed veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to help rookie Jake Locker find his way into the starting lineup. The Titans also released Vince Young, the former franchise quarterback who is now playing on a one-year deal in Philadelphia.

Whoever ends up under center in Tennessee will rely heavily on the running game. This assumes that Chris Johnson, one of the two best backs in the NFL in recent years, isn't still holding out. Johnson hinted at that eventuality in June, when players were organizing workouts and the lockout was still in full swing.

NFL Network's Jason La Canfora wrote at the time that, "The idea of another 'band-aid' deal, after three highly productive seasons, isn't appealing to Johnson, and a contract in the range of the $5 million per season extension that Jamaal Charles signed with the Kansas City Chiefs last season isn't what he's thinking, either. Johnson has talked in the past about wanting to join the ranks of those garnering $30 million in guaranteed money, and if the free-agent cash begins flying around in a furious manner post-lockout, don't expect his desire to wane."

So it wasn't much of a surprise that Johnson wasn't there Sunday night when the Titans held their first practice open to the public. And it sounds like he won't be showing up without a new contract. “It won’t happen again,” Johnson said, according to the Tennessean's Jim Wyatt. “This is the last time without me having a long-term deal.”

One problem: the Titans won't negotiate as long as Johnson holds out.

“We told Chris and his agent we are willing to sit down and talk about a contract, but he needs to get into camp before we are willing to do that,’’ Titans general manager Mike Reinfeldt said. “That is kind of our position. He needs to be here with the rest of the Titans, getting ready to play games.

“He is a good football player, we have a good relationship with Chris and his agent and we hope that would continue. (But) he is under contact. He should be here; everybody else is. It’s the right way to do it.”

Johnson's currently slated to make $800,000 in 2011. Given his production in recent seasons (including 2,006 rushing yards and 14 TDs in 2009), he's due a raise. The problem -- at least for Johnson -- is that it doesn't make salary-cap sense to pay him a deal that includes, say, $30 million in guarantees. Running backs are fungible; alternatives to Johnson are out there and much, much cheaper.

And for the Titans, that means more flexibility to address other roster needs. To put it another way, Johnson rushed for more than 3,300 yards and scored 25 TDs the last two seasons and the Titans went 8-8 and 6-10.

NFL Network's Solomon Wilcots sees it differently. “Let’s face it, Chris Johnson is the straw that stirs the drink for that football team. He has done so much for them over the past three seasons and they’re going to lean on him again. … Without [him], they’re not going to strike fear into teams. It would be hard for them to win it all. The Titans have to get that situation worked out as soon as possible and make him happy.”

We agree. The Titans need to work this out. What they shouldn't do, however, is pay Johnson a huge chunk of change (even if he's worth it -- and he is) because we've seen how this movie ends.

If you're still not convinced, how about this: 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: July 27, 2011 8:22 am
Edited on: July 27, 2011 12:57 pm

Hasselbeck to sign three-year deal with Titans

HasselbeckPosted by Josh Katzowitz

Free agent QB Matt Hasselbeck has a new home, and new Titans coach Mike Munchak has a new signal-caller.

Per CBSSports.com’s Mike Freeman, the 35-year-old Hasselbeck will sign a multi-year deal with the Titans worth a reported $21 million over three years. That means the SeahawksHasselbeck’s former employer who signed Tarvaris Jackson on Tuesday – are officially done with him, and that means Vince Young is out in Tennessee.

It’s also tremendous news for rookie QB Jake Locker. With the retirement of Kerry Collins, Locker was looking at starting in Tennessee with no veteran leadership around him to let him learn.

Now, Hasselbeck probably will take the first-team snaps while Locker gets to learn what it’s like to be an NFL quarterback.

Hasselbeck's new destination
Hasselbeck also will be a good team guy, considering he helped lead the offseason Seahawks workouts, despite knowing there was a good chance he wouldn’t be back in Seattle.

In fact, Freeman thinks Tennessee made such a good move that the Titans are heading for the playoffs. While that’s still going to be a tough bet with the Colts still in the AFC South, it’s an interesting thought. Chances are, unlike last year when Hasselbeck led the 7-9 Seahawks to the postseason, Tennessee actually will have to own a winning record to make the playoffs.

Now, the next step for Tennessee: making sure RB Chris Johnson doesn’t hold out in hopes of getting more money from the Titans.

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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