Posted by Ryan Wilson
Chris Johnson is the most important player on the Titans roster and it's not even close. (Kenny Britt is probably No. 2 but it's only a matter of time before he's arrested again and/or has his Facebook page hacked.) In 2009, Johnson rushed for 2,006 yards and scored 16 touchdowns. Last summer, he declared that "I'm shooting for 2,500 (rushing yards), but I'll be happy with anything over the record (of 2,105 set by Eric Dickerson in 1984)." He ended the 2010 season with 1,364 yards and Tennessee won six games.
Now, with light at the end of the lockout tunnel and the real possibility of training camps starting on time, Johnson could be a no-show, instead choosing to park himself on his couch until he has a new contract. PFT's Michael David Smith says Johnson could be this year's Darrelle Revis, who held out during Jets training camp last summer. (As you may remember, it was one of the many story lines from Hard Knocks.)
Johnson's set to make $800,000 in 2011 but he's looking for a deal that pays him like one of the NFL's top backs. Seems reasonable given his productivity, age (25), and importance to Tennessee's offense (particularly given the likelihood that rookie Jake Locker could see the field).
Details via NFL.com's Jason La Canfora:
"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, La Canfora writes. "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."
Well, it's a starting point. Recent negotiations between owners and players to craft a new CBA have proven that no one gets exactly what they want. Ultimately, it's about compromise. The Titans won't give Johnson a blank check, and it sounds like he's not playing for $800,000. We're guessing they'll meet somewhere in the middle.
After all the gnashing of teeth about Revis missing the 2010 season, he and the Jets found common ground days before the regular season and he ended up with some $30 million in guarantees. Of course, cornerbacks are among the best-paid players in the game. Johnson might have to set his sights lower. Then again, maybe the Titans can be persuaded to sweeten the pot if Johnson promises not to hold out again in two years.
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