According to Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean, Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson will not report to training camp this July if he and the Titans have not yet worked out a contract extension.
Johnson is scheduled to make about $800,000 in 2011, but is obviously worth much more than that. Unfortunately for the Titans and their fans, it sounds like Johnson wants a record deal that would pay him more than any running back in the history of the game.
CJ2K is good, but he is not deserving of such a contract considering the fact that he’s not even the best running back in the game today.
A big problem with the smaller, shifty backs like Johnson is that with age their speed deteriorates. It’s not a question of if, but when. So giving him a huge contract has to make the Titans front office a bit nervous knowing that once his speed leaves him he won’t be half the back he is right now.
Johnson will only be 26 when the season starts, but it’s not uncommon for guys like him — a smaller back who has carried the ball nearly 700 times the past two seasons — to start breaking down around 28.
The Titans can clear their conscience a little bit by telling themselves they’re making up for the value they got out of him for his first three years in the league, but it’s going to be hard to reconcile paying a change-of-pace back close to $15 million in a few seasons.
That all being said, Johnson has certainly earned a new deal. However, I don’t believe the Titans would be wise to give him the record-setting deal he’s looking for and should instead call his bluff until he’s willing to accept something more reasonable.