Trouble looming between Titans, Chris Johnson

NFL_johnson1.jpgIn late March, we pointed out that Chris Johnson’s contract could soon become a problem.  “Soon” could be sooner than anyone in Tennessee realizes.

With Johnson boycotting offseason workouts and Titans coach Jeff Fisher shrugging at the possibility that the 2009 AP offensive player of the year’s absence will become protracted, we’re hearing that Johnson could be preparing to make a stand.

As the 24th pick in the 2008 draft, Johnson signed a slotted deal worth $12 million over five years.  He already thinks he should be the highest-paid offensive player in the league.

He isn’t; he’s not even close.  He’ll earn a base salary of $550,000 in 2010.  Colts quarterback Peyton Manning will earn $3.8 million more this season than Johnson will make under his entire rookie deal.

The Titans easily can respond to a request for a new deal by pointing to the 30 percent rule, which as we’ve recently explained makes it very difficult to do a market-value extension in the uncapped year — unless the team wants to fork over a gigantic signing bonus.  And while we believe when it comes to a veteran deal that the player should honor the terms of his contract, the current slotting system fails to reward a rookie who outperforms his draft position.

Regardless of whether Johnson chooses to hold out of training camp (and the grapevine suggests that he very possibly could), any forthcoming tweaking to the rookie compensation system not only should remove the windfalls paid to the men taken at the top but also should ensure that the players who become stars are paid accordingly.

Of course, none of that will help Johnson.  And his desire to get paid in a manner reflecting his abilities could quickly become one of the dominant story lines of the 2010 offseason.

84 responses to “Trouble looming between Titans, Chris Johnson

  1. Michael Jordan played out the full length of his contracr, despite many in the NBA who were paid more. A gentleman, he.
    Chris Johnson is a douchebag.

  2. you aint all that important CJ, if you were your team wouldn’t of started 0-6 and only became relevant because your team was playing with absolutely nothing to lose because your season was over, SHUT UP and play your contract out

  3. “Pay the man”? Y’all saying he should be paid more than Peyton Manning? Heck NO! This kid should just shut up and prove that he can perform like what he did in 2009 for three more seasons before he can be the highest paid player in the NFL.

  4. Chris Johnson absolutely has a beef here, but rookie contracts are never negotiated accordingly. For example, rookie quarterbacks can’t be expected to perform at an elite level until their 3rd or 4th seasons. On the other end of the spectrum, position players such as running back and wide receiver often become pro bowl players in their 1st or second seasons. Had Johnson’s agent been smart he would’ve worked out an incentive laiden contract between Johnson and the Titans so that had he reached the lofty pro bowl status he has he would’ve gotten paid for it. It’s almost ridiculous that I’m pointing out this fact when guys who have graduated from Harvard and Yale can’t get their shit together. I mean come on.

  5. Well, he should be getting paid more money but all the crap that the league has in place makes it hard for teams to even do so……SO
    Don’t buy the cow if you can get the milk for free…
    Let him sit out and waste a season, suspend him for the whole year and sign Westbrook…Flawless plan…its so easy!
    – Browns GM

  6. Leave it to the media to create a controversy when there isn’t one.
    I say nay only because the Titans are my team!

  7. Basketball contracts and football contracts should not even be compared. Jordan also was receiving a stream of money from Nike that could not be rivaled. Plus lets not pretend like Jordan was paid like the 12th man. He was certainly paid in the Top 10. His agent was David Falk, the man who had practically every big name contract in the NBA. In addition, Falk was the agent who had big time escalator clauses in his clients contract (Patrick Ewing comes to mind), that they had to be paid at the top 5 in their position. If someone got a raise, then Patrick Ewing would also get a raise as well.
    Chris Johnson should be paid more, but the Titans are going to play the wait and see game because RBs are the position that see the most amount of damage to them and they have a very short shelf life. I can’t blame the Titans for taking this approach, but in fairness they should pay this guy more than 550,000. He has demonstrated that he is a top 10 player and certainly is one of the top 2 backs in the league.

  8. Need to keep CJ happy
    Mel Kiper and Todd McShay only got 3 picks correct in the 1st round of the 2009 draft…what a waste to you dumba$$ that pay for insider report at espn…sucker!!!!

  9. Players who become stars are paid accordingly, when their contracts expire. It’s called free agency. The only remedies to this is to have voidable years built in to rookie deals if they meet certain criteria or restrict rookie deal length to 3 years max.

  10. I wouldn’t pay him any more.
    What’s he going to do…not show up? Once actual training camp rolls around, he can be fined for not being there. So not only will he not be gettin paid, he’ll be gettin fined.
    Perhaps he can be a professional speaker.

  11. @doctor chip
    Let’s see, football tends to cause …oh I don’t know maybe 95% more injuries than basketball.
    time is definitely of the essence when you could straight up die or be paralyzed on any given play. The worst thing that happens in basketball is maybe your leg or other ligament breaks in half. Or you smash your head on the court in an extremely unlikely scenario.
    And are you freaking kidding me??MJ a Gentlemen?? Maybe in the public’s eyes. I guess you didn’t hear about the inside info on how Jordan got Tiger Woods started on his whore escapade. It was on espn…hahaha
    Chris Johnson came in and dominated from day 1.
    I’m no Titans fan, just a fan of common sense and intelligence. You sir, lack both.

  12. I suppose if he gets hurt or has a bad couple years he’s going to pay the guaranteed money back along with anything over the minimum? When he signed the contract was his intent to be “average” or to play to the best of his abilities? Everyone said the Titans reached on him at draft time, and if so, he would have been paid much less the more he slid down in the draft order. That said, there is a right way and a wrong way to handle this, and it would appear that Johnson is going or about to go about it in the wrong way. Does he want to be remembered as a turd with talent a la T.O.? Or as someone with character and class.

  13. Pay the man, but offer him the half way point between what he makes now and what the top player makes. Then if he reaches certain goals, pay him more the next year.
    Remember, though, the NFL is a business. The first time Chris Johnson breaks a leg and comes back as a healthy but slow running back with no skills the Titans will cut him, no matter what his contract is.
    Then the loyalty card will be played.
    And there’s that junior high school over-used word….douchbag. Come up with something clever.

  14. While I do not find it unreasonable to ask for a new contract, the man had a great season, it some what amazes me that athletes do this. YOUR UNDER CONTRACT- DO YOUR JOB.
    Every athlete is quick to ask for more money when they have a good season. How many of them that got a big contract gave back money if they had a bad season? None I can think of. How ridiculous would it sound if the Team asked for money back based on poor performance.

  15. The problem is that running backs by the time they make their second contract are about to be over the hill. CJ won’t make it past 30 and he knows it. He wants his money now.
    If you come out at 21 and sign a 5 year deal, then you are stuck with that team until 26. The next deal can’t be longer than 4 years before you are 30 and basically fall apart as a running back.
    If you are a tandem back, you last long but you get a lot less money.
    It’s that simple. The NFL needs to change that rule for RBs.

  16. dam the titans ownership are cheap lol they will pay eventually but as far as him being highest paid player dont hold your breath chris ! unless he rushes for another 2k yards next season i dont ever see that happening.

  17. Michael Jordan played out his NBA contract nearly along every other endorsement to cover his gambling needs until his contract expire..His new deal was 30 million per year if I can remember correctly. A true gentleman but a well paid one. If the Titans wanna ride Johnson again they gotta pay him his worth or have him sit out. He was the MVP last season and everybody knows it.

  18. Jeez, people are still crying Obama wasn’t born in America?
    Oh, and Johnson is a douchebag.

  19. so how much was his signing bonus which was guranteed?somehow I think the million or 2 would cover any shortfall of “only” making a half million a year.

  20. “the current slotting system fails to reward a rookie who outperforms his draft position.”
    It also fails to punish a rookie who underperforms his draft position. You ever heard of $31Million guaranteed JaMarcus??!
    Deal with it. If he doesn’t like it, he can go make minimum wage flipping burgers, if he is even qualified for that.

  21. The Titans can have Fat Albert back and any 2 of the Redskins geriatric RB’s and for him and I would be happy

  22. Might be hard to define “star” in contract terms, Florio. Things are the same in every working environment. Some people are worth more than they make, and some just steal it.

  23. This is part of the problem with the current “slotting” system used in the NFL. When a team drafts a guy in the top ten, is bassically forced to give him a huge contract and he busts they have no recourse or way to get any of that money back. When it is the reverse and a player taken later in the draft outplays his contract, he can hold out and just expects that he will get the money. The players and the union just expect to be able to manipulate the system to win either way and life doesn’t work that way.
    If the league brings in a true slotting system, they should have all rookie deals for the first 3 rounds be fully guaranteed 4 year deals, with a team option for a 5th year. The counter to this would be that players CAN NOT renegotiate that rookie deal until the 4 guaranteed years have expired.

  24. Que the people that say he signed a contract and should stick to it.
    Hey if a player under preforms a contract a team will cut them in a heartbeat before the contract is up. Well if a player out preforms a contract they should be able to get a better deal.
    Dude has way out preformed that contract, 550k this year from Chris Johnson thats just rediculous. Pay the man, he has earned a raise.

  25. Sit out you cry baby. Wahhhaaa, Wahhhaaa, I only get $550k to play a game I love while the factory worker pays $150 per ticket to watch me. Wahhhhhaaaa. SHUT AND PLAY.1 year proves nothing.

  26. The Titans would be insane to make Johnson the highest payed offensive player in the league. He has 3 years left on his contract and has no leverage other than holding out, which doesn’t come at no cost to him especially considering the position he plays. Most running backs have a short career and can’t be jacking around missing games. He was fine with the contract when he signed it.

  27. This is nothing like the Josh Cribbs situation. Cribbs signed one deal, was offered another and signed it. This is Johnson’s rookie deal and I hate to say it, but he deserves to be up in the Peyton Manning pay scale. They ride his coat tails with 30+ carries a game. If he gets hurt, his work was for very little in compensation and the pay does not meet the work.

  28. Wow…..He agreed to a deal…..What ever happened to integrity?
    I guess money trumps that in today’s world.

  29. doctor chip says:
    April 11, 2010 8:04 PM
    Michael Jordan played out the full length of his contracr, despite many in the NBA who were paid more. A gentleman, he.
    Chris Johnson is a douchebag.
    You’re comparing apples to oranges…NBA players careers aren’t over when they hit 30 so these guys gotta try to get paid while they can.

  30. I don’t see why they dont pay him. Running backs are only valuable in this league till around 30, so they need to get their money when they can. He might be the best RB in the league and he needs to be paid accordingly.

  31. who is approving your comments? since when do you allow spammers to post possibly-malicious links concerning tea party conspiracy theories? (biggredd)
    if chris johnson is already whining about this, especially in a year when a quality extension is close to impossible, then he may very well be a douchebag.

  32. If CJ wasn’t a running back I’d say who cares. But he is and frankly the current broken salary scale is even more broken when talking about running backs. The fact is they’re a special case because they have such a short window in which they are physically capable of playing at a high level. I don’t know what the answer to this problem is. Certainly CJ, as good as he is, isn’t even close to the deserving the kind of money that Manning pulls in. But he does deserve more. Hopefully if a new CBA is created there will be special considerations for running backs like allowing them to be UFAs earlier than other drafted players. But as it stands now CJ is caught in the gears of a broken salary scale and there’s not a lot he can do about it.

  33. # DB26 says: April 11, 2010 8:48 PM
    This is nothing like the Josh Cribbs situation. Cribbs signed one deal, was offered another and signed it. This is Johnson’s rookie deal and I hate to say it, but he deserves to be up in the Peyton Manning pay scale. They ride his coat tails with 30+ carries a game. If he gets hurt, his work was for very little in compensation and the pay does not meet the work.
    Whoa Whoa Whoa… I do think that Chris Johnson is one of the dynamic players in the league, but to suggest he deserves to be paid in the range of peyton is insane…He only played two years and he needs to at least show that last wasnt a fluke and than the titans should really look at making him one of the highest paid “halfbacks”

  34. If that Kenyan official is correct we might be rid of Obama earlier than 2012.
    I hope Chris Johnson skips out on all offseason workouts and just drinks and parties.

  35. They are paying the man – based on a contract he agreed to just two years ago. His ultimate challenge though is RB is just not the pivotal role it once was. Few SB winning teams in recent years have had a dominant RB. NE, Indy and New Orleans won without dominant backs. Pittsburgh won its second SB with Mewelde Moore as the feature back for crying out loud.
    Don’t see them paying him what he wants – and if they do I think they doom their team because they end up with too much of their payroll in a reasonably replaceable role.

  36. Why don’t the agents to these kids make sure there are performance escalators in their contracts? His deal was a fair deal for where he was drafted, but he wasn’t protected in case he became an All-Pro. That’s the agent’s and the team’s fault; no team should have a problem tying significant bonuses to performance.
    He IS grossly underpaid now, but he’s in a contract. I can promise you this: Johnson WON’T play out the last three years of this deal. The Titans will have to address it eventually.

  37. Take some of that cash a get a better agent crytown. Im sure his contract has all sorts of performances bonuses that allows him to EARN his money. What a concept for a kid who didnt even graduate from the oh so exclusive Eastern Carolina University (North, South…East??) with a degree to have to work for his millions. Damn life is tough.

  38. CJ is nothing without VY. If he does get paid, he needs to chip off 50% and hand it over to Vince.

  39. Pay the man,people wanna fault him for signing the contract but it was a rookie contract its not like he had a whole lot of choice…
    Well ROokies making too much in top 16 picks is out of control the Length is also a problem too…If they want rookies to honor their original contract then make it 3 years for 2nd round + 4 years for 1st rounders.

  40. # P-Slice says: April 11, 2010 8:46 PM
    Sit out you cry baby. Wahhhaaa, Wahhhaaa, I only get $550k to play a game I love while the factory worker pays $150 per ticket to watch me. Wahhhhhaaaa. SHUT AND PLAY.1 year proves nothing.
    Good one, like there’s any factory jobs left in this country! Hahaha

  41. Maybe if he did this behind closed doors, management would comply to his request, but instead he’s a little bit*h and goes about it like a high school kid. Typical douchebag.

  42. if he takes his damm gold teeth out and stopp pimping that piece of shit ride of his, he would have money..

  43. Here is the problem, the RB position isn’t the most important position on the field. So even though Chris Johnson maybe the most talented offensive player, but he is the most important, and thus shouldn’t be the most highly paid.

  44. I understand why….he wants to be paid at the top of his game b/c with the amount of carries he gets it is only time before he hits that wall

  45. Doctor Chip says- “Michael Jordan played out the full length of his contracr, despite many in the NBA who were paid more. A gentleman, he.
    Chris Johnson is a douchebag.”
    Look at the average career span of an NBA guard versus the career span of an NFL RB. Apples/oranges

  46. Great player, vastly greedy turd.
    He’s already gotten most of the 12 mil up front from his rookie deal. He’s only 2 years into it. If the Titans are stupid enough to give this kid an extension with a big signing bonus in 2 more years he’ll be whining and screaming for the next extension when he’ll be nowhere near the end of the first one.

  47. OK, I just realized I’m a repeating piece of shit. I guess that is what happens when you type shit with a glass full of Bicardi and forget to hit send. You go piss, get distracted, come back an hour later and hit send only to realize afterwards that you are drunk on a Sunday night and six other people posted the same unoriginal shit you just did but they did their unoriginal shit an hour before you did. I am the unpaid Florio. BTW, who is the spamming F@ck that keeps posting anti-Obama retoric on here? I don’t care one way or the other about him but why is there even a post-screening process here when spammers get through? What a joke. I’m gonna start my own site. Wait, nevermind, I have somewhat of a life.Kind of.

  48. Pay Da Man? He is being paid on a contract he agreed to. He could have made it incentive based, but he did not. “Pay da Man” is how salary inflation occurs. It is the motto behind high ticket prices, lockouts, and lawyers. Why not, “Honor your contract, and you will be paid handsomely in your second contract–like everyone else.” Headcase.

  49. Telling a guy that he volutarily signed his deal and now he must live up to it strikes me as unfair. Some guys clearly deserve to be compensated for playing better than they thought they could. It just looks like billionaire employers exploiting the rank and file to make a point, since they are more than able to reward exceptional performance. It smacks of unfairness and pettiness, even though this particular rank and file makes more money than we fans will likely earn in a lifetime, barring a lottery win or something equally as unlikely.

  50. iirc CJ didn’t work out w/ the team last year. didn’t check the links but if you’re just basing this off of that then i think you’re stirring something up that’s not there.

  51. LOL @ the people who called Michael Jordan a gentleman. He’s possibly one of the biggest douchebag to ever play sports. Just watch his Hall of fame induction for proof.. instead of being grateful and thanking people, he was making sure to bury every single person that ever doubted him or thought anyone was better than him in his life. Plus, he cheated on his wife and is widely know as an asshole off the basketball court. He’s no gentleman.
    But anyway, CJ needs to just shut up and play. Yes, he’s a great player, but he only played 2 out of 5 years of his contract thus far. He had one record breaking season (he broke Marshall Faulk’s yards from scrimmage record if anyone thinks I’m talking about the single season rushing record) and he wants to be the highest paid player in the game? Um, no thanks. Prove you can play at that level for another year and then you can ask about that raise. Although, I don’t know if he should be getting money when he’ll be spending it on things like this:
    (Yes, that’s his car)

  52. What all of you seemingly don’t understand is that if they don’t pay him, he will leave after his contract is up if he is unhappy with the Titans. Not signing him to an extension will make him unhappy. Pay the man. He is a star.

  53. And if you break your leg this year and can’t play are you going to give that money back Chris…Didn’t think so…

  54. he should be getting paid more money i mean come on the man puts up numbers, being the highest paid offensive player in the league hes smokin that stuff if he thinks that

  55. A contract is a contract even though they probably should give him a raise.
    I wonder how long before the NFL tries to pass some BS rule where a dude threatening a holdout can be subject to a suspension or fine?

  56. you signed that rookie contract dude. You could have insisted on one like Larry Fitz signed with the Cards with a ton of incentives that forced it to be ripped up. Now Larry Fitz is making $40mm over 4 years. Coulda been you if your agent had worked it right. Stay healthy till that next contract CJ.

  57. Bullshit with all the PAY THE MAN talk…
    Chris…..BE A MAN and honor your contract…you know…the one you signed???
    What a tool……

  58. It seems like players should have a beef with agents. The “adversarial” relationship between owner and agent is a myth. Agents and teams are more cozy than players or fans believe. If agents were the advocates they are supposed to be, why do so many contracts heavily favor the team over the player, sometimes leaving the player dramatically underpaid over a long term deal? Take the case of Sheldon Brown. Brown signed a long-term deal at relatively low pay. His agent convinced him it was the best deal he could get. A couple years into the deal, he outperforms his deal and wants a bump in pay. He is told that he signed a deal now he has to live with it. He becomes bitter. The team signs Asante Samuel for ten times Brown’s deal. Brown, who is a better overall player presses his case to no avail and is later traded. Same story with countless others around the league. A bean counter like Joe Banner favors an agent who negotiates a team-friendly low-cost deal by convincing his client that he isn’t going to do better. Agents protect their relationships with rich, powerful teams over those of their clients. Begging the question, who is the real client? Not that I’m looking for conspiracies, but compromising all opposition to what they want is a winning corporate strategy. Wouldn’t the same be true of billion dollar pro sports franchises?

  59. again what part of signing bonus don’t you people understand?I am supposed to feel sorry for someone who just for signing his name gets a multi-million dollar bonus that is guaranteed then recieves a salary of “only” 500,000 dollars?again they can cut him at any time and not owe him anything but let’s not act like he and every other playwe did not get a garanteed signing bonus before get the big money up front so why the crying?sorry not going to make me feel one bit sorry for you.

  60. Running Backs walk w/ limps the rest of their lives so if they are outstanding players and outperform their contracts they need to get paid.
    The Rookie slot system needs to be over hauled right away especially when a slug like J. Russell of Oakland makes much more than an outstanding player like C. Johnson

  61. P!$$ on these crybaby athletes. He signed a contract. They all want the security of a contract yet want to break it the minute they realize they’re better than they thought they were. I’ve never seen where owners were given their money back by jocks who have bad seasons. Let him pout.

  62. Like what has been said, basketball contracts are guaranteed. Football contracts are not. If you don’t perform in football, it doesn’t matter how long you are signed for. The only thing that is guaranteed is your signing bonus and compared to basketball, that is peanuts. In basketball and baseball for that matter, the minute you sign the contract, you get all of that money. In football, you can sign a 100 million dollar contract, but only get about 20-30 of that, and that is really on the high end of things. In football, the minute they don’t like you, you are gone. I don’t blame Johnson for trying to get all he can, because you know that the Titans will franchise him and tell him that they will pay him, but it will be like Leon Washington for the Jets; he could get injured and then the Titans, like the Jets did to Washington, pass on Johnson. I don’t blame Johnson one bit for trying to get all that he can.

  63. All things being fair, he should be one of, if not the, highest paid RBs in the league, but the rookie pay scale has never been about providing fair remuneration for performance. Good players get underpayed and bad players get overpayed all the time. Overpaid players tend to be worse than they should and underpayed players seem to find that little bit extra in a contract year.
    The irony is, that Johnson, barring injury, will be given a huge contract at the end of his rookie deal, by which time his physical skills will be in decline.

  64. I say pay him some more money… Usually when a star rises like this he deserves a good contract regardless of what… He shouldn’t be paid as much as Peyton manning but pay him what he’s worth… A big difference about cj compared to other rbs is alot of his yards were gained strictly because he’s so damn fast and not blockers so it’s not like he will have a crazy decline in numbers because alot of his productivity was on his own behalf so I say pay him what he’s worth and he’s worth more than $600000 no matter what his contract says. Personally if I were the coaches ID have given him a new contract because that’s better than him wanting to leave the titans. I wouldn’t have given a huge amount of money like Peyton but more than he’s paid now for sure.

  65. They say, “put it on tape”!
    2k plus probowl, he could be the best RB in the league. If he were a cowboy, Jerry would have taken care of him. Give the max deal you can for a player of his status and give him some incentives. Or add incentives to his currently contract that would make him one of the highest players, or give him a huge roster bonus.
    Do something Titans, he was fun to watch last year.

  66. RBs age in dog years. Since he’s proven he’s legit, Johnson should get paid now while he’s producing. I’d rather pay a guy for his production now, rather than wait until he’s in decline like they did Sean Alexander and Larry Johnson. Then you’re stuck with dead weight on your team. I would say a contract similar to Jones-Drew would be fair.

  67. LOL, I have to laugh at most of the posters here. Trade CJ because he knows he’s worth Adrian Peterson money? Don’t give him a pay raise because he signed a contract? If this were baseball or basketball, that makes sense, since they will get every bit of a Fifty Million Dollar contract even if they are hurt (remember Grant Hill), but in the Not For Long league, as one astute poster noted, you can have your contract balled up and thrown away if the team decides to do so. Knowing that running backs are only going to be productive for an average of five years, and knowing you have the second best running back in the league, you still feel okay with paying him less than the waterboy, then you sir, would not have a playoff team.

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