Former NFL defensive tackle Warren Sapp thinks that Titans running back Chris Johnson will hold out of training camp. Now, a couple of former NFL running backs are publicly saying that he should.
Former Titans running back Eddie George, whose shoes Johnson now fills, and former Colts and Rams running back Marshall Faulk, whose single-season yards-from-scrimmage record Johnson broke in only his second year, think Johnson should hold firm in his holdout.
“Without a doubt, if more money is what he wants, he has to hold out
,” Faulk said, according to Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean
. “You have to know who you are dealing with. The Titans aren’t known for caving in or paying, it doesn’t matter who you are. In my opinion, there is no way he can come in and play under the current contract.”
Johnson’s current contract has a total value of $12 million over five years. Johnson has said that he wants to be the highest-paid offensive player in the league, which means that he’d have to make a lot more than $12 million per year.
Faulk touches on one of the other problems regarding the current system for paying rookies — for every JaMarcus Russell, who never comes close to earning his guaranteed money, there’s a Chris Johnson, who grossly overachieves in relation to the compensation tied to his draft slot.
“Chris has outplayed his rookie deal. He has beyond exceeded the expectation where he was drafted,” Faulk said. “When you are drafted you are paid as to where you were drafted, not to how you play. And then after you play and prove your worth you are then paid as to how you play. He has exceeded the money he is making, the Titans know it and everyone in the league knows it.”
George agrees. “The longevity of a running back in this league is so short that you have to take advantage of those opportunities,” the 1995 Heisman winner said. “My advice to him is if you can get it by playing hardball great. There is no question he is the best player on that team and he deserved to get paid more.”
Coach Jeff Fisher remains to project confidence. “These things work themselves out,” Fisher said, per Wyatt. “I’m sure that he is working. I’m sure he is not planning on sitting out the season. I’m sure he is planning on coming in here very soon.”
We disagree with Fisher’s last statement. But we agree with the one before it. Johnson won’t sit out the season. He’ll sit out a maximum of only ten weeks of it, so that he can get credit for the third year of his contract. If he waits any longer than that, he’ll be in the same position next year that he’s in now.