Thursday, August 25, 2011

Chris Johnson - Tennesee's Titanic Headache: Five Reasons Why He Won't Get Paid

Chris Johnson is making the right decision for himself.  I don't know if anyone can argue that. In the past, other players have been criticized for holdouts.  Those are usually rookies who haven't earned those salaries and bonuses they're wanting.

However, Chris Johnson has been arguably the best running back in the NFL over the past three years.  Over the past three seasons, Johnson had rushed for 4,598 yards (1,538 yards/season), 34 touchdowns, and an excellent 5 yards/rush average.  

So what is Tennessee's problem? The best player on their team deserves a raise, right?

Well, it's a lot more complicated than just that.  Johnson might have wished he held out prior to last year's season rather than now.

Five Reasons Why Johnson Won't Get The Money He Wants

  • Johnson is a 5'11", 191 lb running back who has carried the ball 925 times over the first three years of his career.  In four years at East Carolina, Johnson amassed just under 7,000 all purpose yards.  Between his college career and the NFL, Johnson has already seen a lot of wear and tear.
  • Combine all that wear and tear with an off-season that has seen Johnson not be able to work with Tennessee's staff in the new offense and conditioning.  Now Johnson is missing several vital practices and pre-season games.  Whenever he does come back to football, he will be at a high risk for injury versus all of the other players who have been playing at football speed and hitting each other for weeks now.
  • As of August 16, the Titans only had roughly $6 million in cap space.  If they were to pay Johnson in the range he is looking for (at least $10 million/year), they would have to readjust contracts of other players to make it happen.  Granted, they could get creative with a contract that would provide significant signing bonuses that might sway Johnson into signing for less salary.
  • Johnson could probably fetch more for the Titans in a trade than what he can provide on the field.  Very few running backs can hold up to the kind of punishment on the field that Johnson has attained over the last three years.  The Titans could trade Johnson now in order to bolster up a few other areas on their team.  
  • Despite Johnson's excellent stats, it hasn't helped to improve the Titans much as a whole.  They did make the playoffs in 2008, but finished 8-8 in Johnson's best year, and 6-10 last year.  If his production could directly be tied to wins, then he'd be worth it.  As it is, if they traded him for more talent, they'd arguably have the same, or better record and not have shelved out several million dollars.  Now you could argue that Johnson was the only thing going well for the Titans over the past few years and they'd have far fewer wins without him, but a mid-level NFL team can't afford to pay one player a superstar salary reserved for teams that actually have a shot at the Super Bowl.

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