The Tennessee Titans are expected to release running back Chris Johnson on Friday. The news may be hard to swallow for the Tennessee fans, but there’s no question this is the right move for both parties.
It’s hard to believe it has come to this considering it was only a few years ago that Johnson was the most electrifying running back in the NFL. Unfortunately, his release signifies how short a running back’s career truly is in the physical sport of football.
Johnson’s production has dipped significantly since he held out for a big contract in 2011. Sure, he has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of the six seasons he’s been in the league. However, his touchdown production was cut in half, and he ran for just 3.9 yards per carry in 2013. Not exactly what the Titans were looking for from someone who has made $31 million over the past three years.
Tennessee is in the right to cut Johnson because he isn’t worth what they would be entitled to pay him. Less than four yards per rush and only six touchdowns doesn’t equate to $8 million. There are far cheaper running backs who can get that same production. The hope is that a combination of Dexter McCluster and Shonn Greene will be able to get the job done. Not to mention, the Titans are expected to select a running back in one of the earlier rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft.
The release will also be good for Johnson because it means he will get a fresh start with a new organization. The Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants and New York Jets are just a few of the teams that are hopeful to arrange a meeting with him in the ensuing days. A mixture of solid production and proven talent means he will be a worthwhile asset for a team that needs to get more out of the running back position. Any team that wants to reach the playoffs in 2014 would be wise to add Johnson to its roster.
Just because Johnson’s time with the Titans is over doesn’t mean that his career has come to a screeching halt. The 28-year-old still has plenty left in the tank. At this point, it’s just a matter of him getting the necessary motivation to excel in a sport that he once dominated. Playing for a contender would certainly be a step in the right direction.