Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson has reported for work, a day before the deadline for earning a fourth year of service toward free agency.
That has caused some to speculate that Titans running Chris Johnson, who also is a holdout, will do the same thing in order to earn his own fourth year of service toward free agency.
Don’t count on it.
Barring a dramatic development, entailing something like a new contract or a clear commitment to providing one, Johnson won’t be showing up. The difference between Johnson and Jackson arises from the length of their contracts. Jackson enters the fourth and final year of his rookie deal; Johnson has two years left. Thus, even if Johnson gets a fourth year of service for free agency purposes this year, he still won’t be a free agent until March 2013.
As long as Johnson shows up by Week 10 of the 2011 regular season (which would get him credit for the fourth year of his contract), he’ll remain on track to be an unrestricted free agent when he otherwise would be an unrestricted free agent.
That said, we wouldn’t necessarily count on Johnson showing up by Week 10, either. He’s drawing a line in the sand this year, and he’s far and away the best player the Titans have. After paying nearly $9 million this year (we’re told) for veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, Bud Adams and company will need to dig even deeper to ensure that Hasselbeck has someone in the backfield to draw a safety or two toward the line of scrimmage.