Inside Slant | Notes, Quotes | Strategy and Personnel |
Durable veteran running back Chris Johnson was released by the Tennessee Titans after a morning meeting with general manager Ruston Webster April 4.
The sixth-year back, who some believe is in decline, has averaged 4.6 yards per carry since he was drafted in the first round out of East Carolina, including a 2,006-yard season in 2009, his second year in the league.
The Titans shopped Johnson in trade but his $8 million base salary was prohibitive.
"As an organization, we want to thank Chris for his contributions to the Titans," Webster said in a statement. "Chris produced many memorable moments, broke franchise records and was durable over his six-year career with our team. We have had an open dialogue with Chris' agent, Joel Segal, over the last few weeks, and we appreciate the patience and professionalism they have shown throughout this process. We made an effort to trade Chris but were unable to do so.
"We wish Chris the best and thank him for the six seasons he spent with us."
The New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals and Cleveland Browns were hinted at as potential landing spots for Johnson and he ended up signing with the Jets April 16. Considering he has 2,014 career touches (272 receptions, 1,742 carries), teams might sooner look to the draft, where a late first-round pick would require only a four-year deal worth approximately the same $8 million Johnson was owed for next season.
Johnson made $30 million in salary and bonuses the past three seasons, but running backs on the open market this offseason are failing to cash in with big-money deals.
Johnson, 28, rushed for 1,077 yards on 279 carries a career-worst 3.9 yards per carry last season after posting 1,243 yards on 276 carries in 2012.
Johnson, who had minor knee surgery in January, said he was underused in the Titans' offense and was open to being traded. Johnson turns 29 in September with more than 2,000 career touches in six seasons.
"I'd like to thank all of my teammates, the fans, the staff and the coaches who have supported me throughout my journey with the Titans," Johnson said in a statement. "I have grown so much as an individual and as a teammate over the past few years, and I am excited about the opportunity to bring my experience and talents to a new organization. I'm looking forward to the next chapter and can't wait to contribute to my new team."
Coach Ken Whisenhunt and Webster had claimed earlier they were not in a hurry to dump Johnson, hoping as teams crossed off running back prospects in the draft a team might come knocking for Johnson, who had no deadline dates in his contract roster or workout bonuses that would warrant his premature release.
"I can't speak about what he has left in the tank, you never know. I know he's there every Sunday. He practiced every day from what I've seen looking at the (participation) charts," Whisenhunt had said. "It's a process with everybody you go through with the football team. ... Putting together the team is no exact science. Certainly chemistry will be a part of it. We're under no deadline to do it."