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Chris Johnson, Titans Making No Progress Toward New Deal

Jun 15, 2010 – 4:05 PM
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Dan Graziano

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Chris Johnson broke records in his second season as a Titan. But the team wants to see him for at least one more year before renegotiating his contract.Titans running back Chris Johnson was tweeting his frustrations Tuesday, but his mini-outburst doesn't indicate any change in his contract situation. Sources close to the situation say there has been no dialogue whatsoever between the Titans and Johnson's agent in recent weeks, and nothing that has happened thus far leads Johnson's side to believe a new contract is in the offing.

The sources tell FanHouse that Tennessee's message to Johnson (who has three years left on his five-year, $12 million rookie contract) is that two years isn't enough of a performance sample size on which to base a new contract. Johnson's point is that his second season was unprecedented, as he set an NFL record for most yards from scrimmage in a single season. But the Titans fear the precedent that would be set by renegotiating a rookie deal after only two years.

As a result, Johnson is skipping Tennessee's offseason workouts and is mulling the idea of continuing his holdout into training camp or even the regular season.

It's a difficult situation, because everybody seems to agree that Johnson shouldn't be playing for a $550,000 base salary next year -- especially when one of Tennessee's backup running backs, Alvin Pearman, is scheduled to earn a base salary of $630,000. But other than the logic inherent in the idea of rewarding a player for a record-setting season, the Titans have no compelling reason to renegotiate a deal. One of the sources told FanHouse that the uncertain labor situation has nothing to do with the Johnson contract stalemate -- that it's all about the team's belief that it needs to see more than two years of performance before redoing a deal.

The difference between Johnson's situation and that of Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis is that Revis' team and his agent are actually discussing the parameters of a new deal. The Jets have said, publicly and privately, that they're willing to renegotiate with Revis -- they just don't like where his demands are at this point. Revis is asking for more than the $16.2 million that Oakland's Nnamdi Asomugha makes per year as the league's highest-paid cornerback, and the Jets believe that deal to be out of line with where the market for cornerbacks should be.

In Johnson's case, there's no discussion at all, which means something about the landscape needs to change before Johnson returns to the Titans' practice field. Currently, Johnson says he won't be there without a new deal, so either he'll get one or somebody (such as Titans coach Jeff Fisher, who has said he plans to reach out to Johnson) will convince him it's in his best interest to show up without one.

For now, with more than a month and a half left before training camp, Johnson seems to be holding firm.

"Its like how u expect ur players to give they all and put their bodies on the line when you not willing to give them what they deserve," Johnson wrote on Twitter. "How do u wnt player 2 honor their contract but the team dont have 2 honor it. If u dont wnt 2 pay a player early dont cut a player early."

Yes, the age-old issue with non-guaranteed NFL player contracts can be condensed to 140 characters. But that doesn't resolve it. And it doesn't come close to resolving the situation between Chris Johnson and the Titans -- especially not in mid-June.
Filed under: Sports