Releasing Chris Johnson leaves the Titans with serious work in the war room come draft day. Lots of great running back options, but keeping CJ might be the best one. Dan Salem and Todd Salem continue this NFL debate in part two of this week’s TD Sports Debate. Two brothers from New York yell, scream and debate the NFL and sports.
Tennessee tight end Delanie Walker is a very good player for his position, so I’m not sure I literally agree with your sentiment. However, I understand the logic. Cutting bait with Chris Johnson would free up a bit of cap space for the Titans to use on other positions. But if CJ2K becomes unemployed, isn’t Tennessee’s biggest positional hole then running back?
I could agree with releasing him from a cap standpoint if the Titans are not considering bringing in a different free agent to replace him. That just seems pointless. It screams that the team no longer had confidence in Johnson as a starting player. It would also open the door for them to immediately and wholeheartedly regret that.
There should be zero confidence that Knowshon Moreno or a comparable player would be a measurable improvement over Johnson. It’s just not the case. So, with that said, the only way cutting Johnson makes sense to me is if they are going to replace that position on the cheap.
This is a fair tactic. As you said, many teams run out young backs. Lots of teams employ timeshares at the spot as well. Tennessee could swing over to that mold by bringing Shonn Greene into the mix more often. But they would certainly need to draft a running back to run the other half of that timeshare. Neither Leon Washington nor Jackie Battle is that guy.
The fortunate thing for Tennessee is that this draft seems to be heavy on middle to late round RB prospects. Most mocks out now have either zero or one back in the first round and that’s it. Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde seems to be the only back capable of reaching the first round.
Here is Mel Kiper’s list of the Top 10 running backs in the 2014 draft:
-Carlos Hyde from Ohio State
-Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey
-Washington’s Bishop Sankey
-LSU’s Jeremy Hill
-Baylor’s Lache Seastrunk
-Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas
-Auburn’s Tre Mason
-West Virginia’s Charles Sims
-Kent State’s Dri Archer
-Boston College’s Andre Williams
There is a lot of speed available within this group, specifically Thomas, Seastrunk and Archer. There are also some big college names like Heisman hopefuls Mason and Williams. If the Titans decide to go this route and use a combination of Shonn Greene and a rookie in their backfield, are they actually a better team in a vacuum? Obviously a lot will depend on how they spend the rest of that CJ savings, but it is hard to like those running backs more than what Johnson can offer even at this “late” stage of his career.
It’s funny that we are actually agreeing with each other while making completely opposite arguments. My logic for releasing Chris Johnson had nothing to do with his ability, or how much he has left in the tank, and everything to do with the Tennessee Titans.
I think Chris Johnson could be one of the top ten or fifteen backs in the league next season. He has that kind of up-side. But the year is 2014, not 2004, and a top ten back doesn’t win games any more. Opposing defenses shut that tactic down and now offenses have to spread the field more to catch them off guard. Also, the Titans’ offensive line needs help. No running back can make up for a porous line. A young back doesn’t know any better and will take that extra beating as he plays to keep his job. The savvy veteran will see the writing on the wall, know his line can’t block for him, and ensure he has legs for next season.
I’m not implying Johnson has done these things, but if Tennessee wants to improve they need to read your list of Running Back draft prospects and pick one. I’d lean towards speed over size. The Titans can create an identity this way, pairing a speedy young back with their top receiving core. Get their quarterback the protection he deserves play after play and they are on to something. This is not a franchise with recent success to point to. If you’re only as good as last season, then Tennessee stinks. Keeping Chris Johnson may keep a few extra fans in the seats, but it dooms the team to another year of mediocrity. He’s a huge asset which the Titans can use to build a winning team going forward.
Draft away Tennessee. Draft away.