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As release looms, Chris Johnson’s market value is unclear

Chris Johnson AP

It’s looking more and more likely that the Tennessee Titans will soon cut running back Chris Johnson, less than three years after signing him to a contract that has paid out, to date, $30 million.

It’s safe to say he won’t make $30 million over the next three years.  The Titans don’t want to pay him $8 million this year, and if anyone else thought $8 million was a bargain, a trade would have happened by now.

So what will he make?  Receiver DeSean Jackson entered the market 17 days late, and on Day 22 got a higher annual average ($8 million) than any of the other 50-plus receivers who were in line for new contracts.

For running backs, the current high-water mark is a low bar of $3.5 million per year.

Surely, CJ2K has greater value after six NFL seasons than Toby Gerhart after four or Donald Brown after five.  With six straight years of more than 1,000 yards rushing, Johnson already sits at 48th on the all-time list at 7,965 yards.

There’s a good chance he’ll get $8 million or more this year via signing bonus that prorates to cover future cap years.  The annual average, however, likely will be more in the range of less than $5 million per year.  While fantasy football owners love their running backs, real football owners realize they’re interchangeable parts, and that plenty of younger and cheaper options are available at every round of the draft and beyond.

The Titans have come to that conclusion this year with Johnson.  It’s possibly only a matter of time before the Vikings come to that same realization about Adrian Peterson, and before the Eagles come to that same conclusion about LeSean McCoy.

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16 Responses to “As release looms, Chris Johnson’s market value is unclear”
  1. primenumber19 says: Apr 4, 2014 8:58 AM

    If he gets 4 mil a year average I will be surprised. I hope he gets it though, never route against someone’s money

  2. fdugrad says: Apr 4, 2014 9:01 AM

    Remember not too long ago when all he could say was ” I ain’t taking no pay cut?!” Reality bites doesn’t it ?

  3. jagsfan1 says: Apr 4, 2014 9:01 AM

    Happy medium :

    Chris – let’s time you in the 40…see where you are at…still blazing? We’ll give you a good deal…

    Slowed down a bit? how about vet minimum…

  4. youtubeingravenvids says: Apr 4, 2014 9:03 AM

    Whoa, hold up. There is NO other Shady McCoy……….yet. But seriously, a back like him is NOT interchangeable. The ones that are as elusive and evasive as him only come around every once in a while.

  5. tcorn6 says: Apr 4, 2014 9:03 AM

    Ha. 6 Mil a year seems way too much. I think he gets between 4 and 4.5 mil a year maximum. Especially with the market this year

  6. pilot2011 says: Apr 4, 2014 9:07 AM

    Well I’m sure Carolina will give him a 20 mil contract.

  7. grimreaper12 says: Apr 4, 2014 9:08 AM

    The Giants run New York. The Jets need publicity. They’ll sign Johnson for back page headlines.
    #WEGOTREVIS

  8. tennesseeoilers says: Apr 4, 2014 9:09 AM

    As someone who’s been watching Chris Johnson’s career closely since day one, I think he could still contribute … primarily as kick/punt return specialist.

    – Fed Up Titans Fan

  9. lilevil74 says: Apr 4, 2014 9:41 AM

    A.P. $14.4 mil 2014 McCoy $9.7 mil 2014 Jamaal Charles $5.233 2014. Dollar for dollar, I will take Jamaal! I just hope the Chiefs resign him next year.

  10. lscratchingthesurface says: Apr 4, 2014 9:54 AM

    I hope the Broncos sign this guy. A head case that Peyton will hate. Plus, the poison he’ll unleash in that locker room. But I doubt Elway wants this dead weight on their team. On the other hand this would make the AFC West a bit easier for the Chiefs and Chargers.

  11. tavisteelersfan says: Apr 4, 2014 10:02 AM

    How valuable would he be to the Broncos.

    “Just Win Now Baby”

  12. kg75 says: Apr 4, 2014 10:16 AM

    After all CJohnson has done for that awful team, they should pay him the $8 mil on principle alone. Horrible supporting team members, even more idiotic coaches and play calling.

  13. greymares says: Apr 4, 2014 10:38 AM

    running back is the least significant and easiest to fill position on the field.

  14. dcapettini says: Apr 4, 2014 10:41 AM

    You have to watch out for running backs from losing teams. They get a lot of their yardage in garbage time when the opposing defense will be only too happy to trade 5 yards for 45 seconds off the clock. If Blount is signing with the Steelers for 3.5m, I don’t see CJ getting much more than that; maybe 4.5m, tops.

  15. Celebrity Man Guy says: Apr 4, 2014 10:43 AM

    I’d rather have a younger Toby Gerhart with a lot less mileage than a has-been Chris Johnson who hasn’t done anything special in five years.

  16. steelerdeathstar says: Apr 4, 2014 10:57 AM

    I’ll take LeGarrette Blount any day over CJ. I recall a few years ago James Harrison saying that after Johnson got hit a couple times in a game against the Steelers, you could see that he didn’t want to get hit anymore. Just saying.

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