Chris Johnson Landing Spot
Chris Johnson Landing Spot
Now that Chris Johnson has been cut by the Tennessee Titans, he will get to see his true value. He better lower his expectations. He was set to make about $8 million for Tennessee this upcoming season. If he were worth that money, he would still be with the team he was drafted by in 2008. I am afraid that CJ is going to find out that running backs are not exactly a dime a dozen, but they are about $2 million per decent runner. Gone are the days of big deals for players who are used as battering rams to set up the passing game. Running backs get hurt, beat up, and wore out, so teams are not going to continue to pay out suitcases full for dollars for guys playing the most dangerous position on the field.
Chris Johnson got his big deal because he was tearing up the NFL in 2009. That was the season he went crazy and gained over 2000 yards rushing the football. He was on top of the world and from the interviews he gave, he appeared to think that gaining 2k yards would be the norm for him each season. That kind of hubris may have been his undoing. He had to be either really arrogant or just ignorant if he thought he could repeat that feat year after year. After all, only six other backs have ever completed the 2k feat, and they each did it only one year. If Barry Sanders, Adrian Peterson, O.J. Simpson, and Eric Dickerson could not gain 2000 yards in more than one season, I will assure you that Chris Johnson cannot and will not do it. For that matter no runner will do it most likely. The defenses just have to much focus on stopping a big time runner, especially after that back has gained that many yards in a prior season. Defensive coordinators get paid to work 16 hour days in order to devise schemes to stop guys like Chris Johnson.
One thing I can say about CJ. He is a dependable runner. He has missed only one game in his six year career and that was in his rookie season. That is a big plus for him as teams cannot afford to invest big money in backs anymore, especially if they are injury prone. Just getting on the field consistently can make a player’s stock stay high when shopping his services around the NFL. CJ could fall apart physically at any time, but the signs do not point to that happening. He has a lot of mileage on his body from all the carries that Tennessee put him through, but he has held up. The Titans did not have much choice but to run him in the ground since they had few star players that were a threat offensively over the past six seasons.
There are multiple landing spots for CJ if he is willing to be realistic with his contract. He’d best forget $8 million for 2014. That ship has sailed and it is not coming back to port ever. He has been to the top of the hill money-wise. He needs to accept that fact and move forward. He can still make a good deal of money and he might even land in a better spot for actually winning football games. That has to count for something in the league. No one likes to lose year in and year out.
The Atlanta Falcons are a possibility for the former East Carolina speedster. The Dirty Birds still have Steven Jackson under contract for 2014, but he was not on the field enough in 2013 to know what to expect out of him. Many Falcon fans were sorely disappointed with what they saw when Jackson was on the field. The coaches were supportive of the Falcons’ starting running back, saying that he did a great job when he was not hurt. That may be true, but Jackson will not be around in 2015 if he does not show up in a much bigger way for the team this year. I can see CJ fitting in with the Falcons even with Jackson still on the roster. How they can pay for him, I have no idea. They just gave Matt Ryan a big QB deal last year, they have Julio Jones to think about contract wise, and Steven Jackson is not playing for peanuts. Oh and the best receiver on the team, Roddy White needs a big check as well. White has been the most dependable player on offense for the Falcons for a while, but I am afraid he will eventually be the odd man out when it comes to a new contract. I would hate to see that happen. White has been nothing short of excellent and is one of the most under rated receivers in football. But those cuts just seem to happen when a team needs cap room, and age has to enter into the equation. Julio Jones is young and White is no longer a spring chicken as they say. Any player can be cut from any team, no matter the loyalty factor. I really shouldn’t mention loyalty and the NFL in the same article. Just ask Chris Johnson about team loyalty.
The Jets and Cowboys could also enlist CJ’s services as a rock toter. The Jets need help anywhere they can get it, after last season. The Cowboys are liable to try anything with their Tony Romo window of opportunity quickly closing. They need a Super Bowl trip this year or it could be the last year of hopefulness in Dallas for a few seasons. Jerry Jones is not going to keep paying Romo top dollar and have no playoff wins to show for it. CJ could be an immediate help to either team. I think the Cowboys would be more desperate for the help so they can chase the playoffs right now. The Jets may be a little more cautious about rebuilding from 2013.
If I were CJ or any other veteran runner in the NFL, I would get out of the league asap. I think five or six years is long enough to get your head rocked on a weekly basis. Make some quick money, try to win a Super Bowl trophy, then move on with a new career. That is easier said than done. It is too hard to walk away from the big game checks. However, the NFL will eventually force you to walk away, so maybe it is better to make the move on your terms. Jim Brown and Barry Sanders did it the right way, as they just went away. CJ could do the same in a couple of years if he wanted.