Titans running back Chris Johnson is due to make $800,000 in 2011, the next-to-last season of his rookie contract. (I was going to say “penultimate,” but then I would have had to thank Tiki and/or Steve Young.) Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams agreed to terms Wednesday on a five-year, $43 million contract with $21 million guaranteed.
Johnson, as Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean pointed out weeks before the Johnny-come-latelys, plans to hold out unless he gets a new deal. And if a new deal is coming, it’s not coming soon. We’re told that there have been no discussions between the two sides in the past couple of days.
Wednesday’s decision of the Panthers to give Williams a huge contract complicates the situation significantly. Sure, the Titans could try to adapt the once-relevant “but the Raiders are crazy” explanation to the Panthers. But it won’t matter. If a 28-year-old tailback who maxed out at 1,515 in 2008 and has two 1,000-yard seasons in five years and who played in only six games per year is worth more than $8.5 million a year and $21 million guaranteed, how much is a guy who rushed for 1,228, 2,006, and 1,364 in his first three seasons worth?
For most backs, 1,364 yards would be cause for a week-long celebration. For Johnson, it was a major disappointment.
This one already was destined to get ugly, possibly even uglier than the Darrelle Revis holdout of 2010. By driving Johnson’s expectations even higher, the Williams contract only makes it more likely that the ugliness is coming.