Eddie George, who led the Tennessee Titans (and Tennessee Oilers and Houston Oilers before that) in rushing in each of his first eight NFL seasons, says it’s past time for the Titans to pay Chris Johnson what he’s asking for.
“It definitely behooves everybody to make him happy so everybody can win,” George told Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean. “Does he deserve a new contract? Absolutely he does. He has outperformed his other one. It’s now time to stop messing around and get the deal done.”
The Titans’ stance is that they want Johnson to end his holdout and report to training camp before they begin contract negotiations. But George says the Titans never should have let it reach this point.
“Chris shouldn’t have had to hold out because there has been ample time to get a deal done,” George said. “To me, it’s unfortunate Chris is even having to go through this because I know he wants to be there practicing with his teammates.”
George knows well that NFL running backs have a short shelf life: George himself went into a steep decline after carrying 403 times in 2000, the year he turned 27. Johnson will turn 26 this year, and George thinks Johnson needs to get paid now, while he can.
“From Chris Johnson’s perspective, I don’t blame him for not being there,” George said. “He has to do what he has to do because he is one of the top backs in the NFL and the window for a running back is small. He has to get his deal now.”
Of course, the Titans know well that the window for a running back is small, and they would probably be perfectly content to run Johnson into the ground for the two years remaining on his current deal and then let some other team pay him after that. And that’s why Johnson isn’t particularly interested in reaching free agency. He wants to get paid now.