Signing Jackie Battle is Great for Tennessee Titans, Bad News for Chris Johnson

By Will Lomas
Jackie Battle
Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

NFL news broke on Monday night when the Tennessee Titans signed running back Jackie Battle to a one-year deal.

This news is great for the Titans, even if it doesn’t feel like the blockbuster move that fans are wanting. Tennessee now has two running backs signed for the 2014 season, both of which fit Ken Whisenhunt’s style of play. Shonn Greene and Battle may not be the most exciting names on the market, but their ability to run between the tackles, and run through contact will make them crucial pieces for what Whisenhunt is trying to build.

One detail that may be overlooked about this signing is that it helps the Titans’ special teams. When Greene came back, Battle could have settled for being relegated to the bench. Instead, Battle fought to earn and keep a job on a competitive special teams unit and helped the team. That persistence and motivation didn’t go unnoticed, and the Titans are smart to lock him down before he hits the open market.

While this is great news for Battle and the Titans, it could potentially be pretty bad news for starting running back Chris Johnson. This isn’t bad news because Battle has any chance of starting for Tennessee, but it is bad news because the Titans now have two running backs firmly in place for relatively little money, which means they don’t have much pressure to add depth to that position if Johnson is cut. This all means that the Titans could cut Johnson very easily and use the money they would have paid him to find another middling running back to complete the running-back-by-committee model that might already be forming in Tennessee.

There are several running backs in free agency that the Titans could look at. Former Houston Texan Ben Tate is another rough and tumble running back that doesn’t shy away from contact, and who isn’t afraid to play through pain. LeGarrette Blount of the New England Patriots is a big physical running back who shouldn’t cost too much on the free market given the miles he has on him, but he is a running back who just refuses to go down on first contact. Finally, Donald Brown could be a real option. Brown is familiar to Titans fans because he seemed to always show up huge when the Titans played the Indianapolis Colts. Brown may have been a flash in the pan this year, but the Titans could sign him for no other reason that to just to keep from playing him again.

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