During the league meetings in Orlando, Titans G.M. Ruston Webster told Pro Football Talk on NBCSN that, to date, running back Chris Johnson hasn’t been applying any pressure to the team to trade or cut the six-year veteran.
Webster may be amending his answer in light of Johnson’s more recent remarks.
Johnson said this week that he’ll show up for the start of offseason workouts, which due to the presence of a new coaching staff will begin on April 7. If/when Johnson arrives, the Titans will have to decide whether to let him participate.
If Johnson participates, he could drop a dumbbell on his foot or otherwise suffer a season-ending injury that would put the Titans on the hook for his full $8 million base salary.
And that could make the Titans tempted to block Johnson from entering the building.
The only problem? The Titans tried this before. In 2006. With Steve McNair. And it didn’t work.
With McNair carrying a big salary and cap number and the Titans trying to trade him, McNair tried to force the issue by showing up for offseason workouts. The Titans locked him out, McNair filed a grievance, and McNair won.
Of course, that doesn’t stop the Titans from trying to do it again, which could buy them a little more time while the grievance process unfolds. Then, once Johnson secures the ability to enter the building, the Titans would have to make a move.
Still, the fact that the issue already has been resolved in favor of the player should allow Johnson to secure the ability to show up without having to go through the motions of filing a grievance.
Regardless of how it all plays out, a potential showdown is only 10 days away, barring a trade or a release of Johnson before then.