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The Titans could be in store for a tough summer with running back Chris Johnson. The soon to be third year running back tallied 2,509 yards from scrimmage in 2009 and is slated to make $550,000 in ’10.
Under the old financial climate, if Johnson took a snap in ’10 with no other deal in place, it would be a major upset. As soon as running backs have success, they seemingly run to the negotiation table but who can blame them with the short lifespan of NFL backs?
Not helping matters is the fact that his backup (Alvin Pearman) is slated to make over $600,000 this season. However, these are far different days in the NFL.
A kicker to the situation is the uncapped structure this season, which has already played a factor in new deals for Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb and 49ers star linebacker Patrick Willis.
Under the league’s current agreement, teams cannot increase a player’s base salary from year to year by more than 30 percent.
All of this means that Tennessee and Johnson are both compromised to a degree. He can’t get real market value under the current financial environment even if the Titans wanted to give him a deal similar to or better than Steven Jackson, who is the league’s highest paid running back and got $48.5 million over five years with over $20 million guaranteed.
As per usual with running backs, offering a lot of money guaranteed through a signing bonus is a big risk if things don’t work out for Johnson on the field.
He’s probably going to holdout but there isn’t much of an upside to him doing so. Johnson might get some more money this season but it will not be likely what he ultimately deserves after a strong first two years in the NFL.
Johnson seems to be the right guy in the wrong place at the wrong time.