Chris Johnson Still Wants a New Deal
Don’t get your fantasy football panties all tied up in a bunch quite yet. Chris Johnson is not vowing to holdout again. He’s just making it known that he’s not waiting for his big pay day that much longer.
Chris Johnson told the Associated Press that he certainly has no intentions of playing after the 2010 season if the Titans don’t come to terms on a new contract:
”I felt like I deserved it this year, but … I can say it won’t happen again. This is the last time without me having a long-term deal. It’s a must.”
It’s hard to fault Chris Johnson for his desire to be paid. After all, the man was the NFL’s offensive MVP and ran for over 2,000 yards in what was an otherwise down year for the Titans franchise. Johnson didn’t just matriculate his way to the 2,000-yard mark—he plowed his way through with long runs and big plays that mesmerized defenses and his own coaching staff.
However, despite all of his success last year, Johnson’s earlier attempt at a hold out was undone by NFL rules. For starters, teams are only allowed to give players a raise of 30%; otherwise, any additional money after that has to be guaranteed and paid upfront, the type of investment no football team will ever put in a running back. Also, Johnson is only entering his third year in the league. Thus, Johnson is essentially asking to have a contract, which was just created two years ago, redone before he has even played in 33 games.
Most importantly, however, Johnson’s anxiousness to get whatever he could out of the Titans may prevent him from ever seeing a substantial payday. While Johnson’s previous holdout this summer was not successful in its attempt to get a long-term deal squared away, he did manage to get a $1.5 million salary raise for the upcoming 2010 NFL season. That’s small potatoes compared to the $30 million Johnson wants, and more to the point, Johnson’s agreement precludes him from signing a contract before July 22, 2011—per NFL rules.
Thus, by signing that contract, Johnson gives the Titans an entire season to see how he performs before they have to officially agree to new terms. And while Johnson may like his chances at breaking the “2,500” yard mark, history says it’s hard enough to have a decent season after eclipsing such a high yardage total. Not to mention, should Johnson suffer any kind of serious injury one can bet that there’s no way the Titans will give him the $30 million he is seeking.
So while Johnson may have gotten a symbolic pay raise in 2010, his long-term prospects for $30 million are extremely in jeopardy. He needs to stay healthy, have a big season and hope he can work out a deal in his favor. The NFL is the one league where the need and availability for talent from year to year changes more than the NBC late night television line-up. And if things don’t change in Johnson’s favor, he could be looking at a difficult negotiation process—no matter when it starts.
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