Titans have an eight-figure decision to make on Chris Johnson

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Last year, when Titans running back Chris Johnson suddenly wasn’t the guy they thought he was when the Titans paid him a new contract, some teams were preparing for the possibility that the Titans would cut him, in order to avoid owing him a fully-guaranteed $8 million base salary in 2012.

Now that Johnson has gained 45 yards on 33 carries through three games, the Titans may secretly be wishing they had.

And this year, the stakes are even higher.

Per a source with knowledge of Johnson’s contract, Johnson has a $10 million base salary in 2013.  Of that amount, $9 million becomes fully guaranteed if Johnson is still on the roster on the fifth day of the 2013 waiver period, which launches in the days after the Super Bowl.  (Until then, the money is guaranteed for injury only.)

And so, at some point in the first week after the Super Bowl, the Titans will have to make an up-or-down decision on Johnson, with $10 million hanging in the balance.

Sure, he could in theory be traded after the Titans allow the guarantee to kick in.  But what other team would pay him $10 million for 2013?

If Johnson can’t get going this year, at some point the team will have to decide whether to throw more good money after what has turned out so far to be a very bad performance.  Though Johnson somehow cobbled together 1,047 rushing yards in 2011, he has fallen far short of the high bar that allowed him to break the bank.

37 responses to “Titans have an eight-figure decision to make on Chris Johnson

  1. Just cut the guy so he can go somewhere else and be a stud meanwhile the Titans will finish circling the drain.

  2. CUT HIM when will people learn that running backs are a dime a dozen, absolutely the easiest position to fill in the N.F.L.

  3. Though Johnson somehow cobbled together 1,047 rushing yards in 2011.
    Comes out to around 65 yds per game.
    Since the 16 game season 1,000 yds is not a good year.

  4. I said when they signed this guy its a huge waste of money and nothings changed. Every week its the same thing, Oh next week will be the week. Well next week never comes. CJ1/2K DOES NOT HAVE THE MORAL CHARACTER TO MAKE THIS KIND OF MONEY. As soon as he signed that contract it was all over. Cut him and cut your losses.

  5. Regardless of the numbers this guy has put up, he doesn’t help anyone win besides fantasy teams. He does not run for first downs. He gets the occasional long touchdown and can’t extend drives and make a big play when the team needs him. He should be replaced because he is an overrated scat back.

  6. This was a bad contract all around for Tennessee. I can see paying AP, R Rice, and possibly L McCoy or A Foster some money, but not this guy. Even when CJ2K was putting up monster numbers-almost none of it was between the tackles. Once he lost a step or even half step those runs he broke 3/4 years ago are now turning into losses.

  7. This difference between CJ21 and AP is insane.

    CJ21 holds out, gets a big contract, and then completely packs in it.

    AP gets a big contract, shreds his knee, works like crazy to rehab, and is already back to the best RB in football.

  8. That 10 mil will be a tough pill to swallow. In an age where run defense is nowhere near as good as it used to be, decent young rbs are getting easier to find. the Rams & Ravens have two good rookies along with some other teams. It will be especially hard if they need money to find some better lineman. Their line was supposed to be good and has come up really short this year as well. He may be hawking his teeth if a year or two if he doesn’t start producing like now.

  9. The question is not whether the Titans will bring CJ back next year.

    The question is whether CJ gets benched by midseason.

  10. I don’t care if he rebounds and gets 1,000 yards this year. They are NOT paying him 10M next year.

    The notion of paying RBs that kind of money when you get similar production from much lower cost players went out the window when they gave that contract in the first place.

    They aren’t going to double down on that stupidity now. He either takes a massive cut or he’s gonesville.

  11. People like him give the good running backs a bad name. People like Arian Foster or Matt Forte, guys who come off as hard working class acts have to work that much harder for a contract because of the Chris Johnsons of the world.

  12. Sure let’s continue to blame CJ. The guy rushed for 1200, 2000, and 1300 yards his first three years then the team gets a new coordinator(Chris Palmer), who’s already destroyed two number 1 QB’s (Carr and Couch), and has never had a job more than a couple years in the NFL. And suddenly it’s CJ who can’t play??? All of the offensive linemen have had continued success in this league(2 pro bowlers, one potential HOF), and suddenly it’s them who can’t play??? The evidence would suggest a new OC is in order, not new players.

  13. Does Hallmark make a “Thanks for Screwing Me Over” card? The Titans and runningback MJ Drew could sure use one. It’s obvious teams should not only consider how good a runningback is, but also consider their character as well.
    Chris Johnson should be arrested for theft, because he’s stealing the Titans’ money.

  14. CJ is more interested in being fast than being a good football player. Notice every year he makes some statement about how he could beat “X” track star of the moment?

  15. Too much money to pay any running back. Shanahan’s Bronco teams showed that it is the big guys up front and the blocking scheme that matter.

  16. I dont even wanna hear that his struggles come from a bad o-line – its obvious this PUNK got his money and shut it down – this is why I love that most of the money in these NFL contracts are not guaranteed – gone are the days of top ten RB’s in the draft – how many teams have backs that were never drafted flourishing in their systems? obv work ethic has alot to do w/ it –

  17. CJ2K has killed the future leverage position of every RB for the next decade…maybe ever.

    The moment there’s a demand for a next contract, or a player holds out, the front office will point at him.

  18. @titansfan-

    So you’re saying that a running back whose skills are completely dependent on being in the exact right system and is useless if not is worth the money CJ is making?

  19. Titan’s runningbacks Chris Johnsom & Javon Ringer will be gone after this 2012 season. Look at my screen name, I created it when CJ2K was holding out before he signed his big contract and then has just seemingly stunk ever since, he is not the same player and the offensive line forgot how to run block. Serious personel changed for the Titabs after the season, draft interior run blocking offensive lineman, new runningbacks through free agency and the draft and better cornerbacks and safeties as well as big run stoppers on defense. I’m thankful the Titans won today, but come on there needs to be change in the running game and defense. Go Titans Go!

  20. After one game, he was on pace to be CJ64. After two games, CJ168. Now after 3, he’s up to CJ240. His performance has improved 6000% over the past two weeks. Clearly, the man deserves a raise.

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