Former Titans running back Chris Johnson dubbed his old team “nasty” for its decision to cut him after free agency but only days before the start of the offseason workout program.
Former Titans center and former NFLPA president Kevin Mawae thinks Johnson has a point.
“I’ve got to give some credit to Chris,” Mawae said on 102.5 The Game, via Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com. “There are some times when the business side of it is done wrong and if the team knew they were gonna cut him or whatever, then I’m in agreement with Chris that they should have done it earlier. There’s no sour grapes about it. You just don’t do business that way, is what I think Chris is trying to say and I would agree with that.”
But here’s the thing. The Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiated when Mawae served as NFLPA president permitted the move, as did the contract Johnson signed with the Titans.
In 2012 and 2013, Johnson’s contained triggers that forced the Titans to make a move early in the offseason. Both years, the Titans opted to keep Johnson.
This year, the contract didn’t have a quick trigger, via either a roster bonus or a conversion of non-guaranteed base salary to guaranteed payments. So the Titans had the ability to squat on Johnson in the hopes of finagling a trade partner. And they did.
Have the Titans gone too far in the past? They surely have, specifically when not cutting quarterback Steve McNair but also locking him out of the building during the offseason program for fear that he’d suffer an injury that would have left them on the hook for his full salary. But for that ruling in 2006, the Titans may have tried to do the same thing to Johnson.
Is it right or wrong? It complied with the applicable agreements, making right or wrong irrelevant. Still, the Titans were fully within their rights — rights given to them by Johnson as part of the contract that paid him $30 million over three seasons featuring performances that didn’t justify the investment.