As teams prepare their list of potential free agents in 2012, there’s a fairly big name that some currently are putting in the “maybe” category.
Per a league source, several teams believe that the Titans could release running back Chris Johnson before the fifth day of the 2012 league year, at which time his base salary of $8 million becomes fully guaranteed.
Johnson’s $8 million compensation for next year is guaranteed for injury only. At the time he signed the new deal, it was assumed that he’d eventually get the money. Now, there’s growing speculation that the Titans won’t allow the salary to become guaranteed unless his on-field play improves significantly.
Actually, there’s a good chance that the number will be $7.7 million, since under the contract Johnson’s salary will drop by $300,000 if he doesn’t rush for 1,000 yards in 2011. Through seven games, he’s on pace for 690 yards.
Another $9 million of Johnson’s guaranteed money is guaranteed only for injury now, and won’t become fully guaranteed until the fifth day of the 2013 league year. As a result, the Titans can avoid a full $17 million of Johnson’s $30 million in guaranteed money if they cut him before March 2012.
So if Johnson doesn’t step it up, he could be stepping out of Nashville.