Chris Johnson was the Tennessee Titans offense for five-plus seasons, but things may change in a significant way after 2013.
According to the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the Titans are expected to release Johnson prior to the 2014 campaign.
Michael Silver of the NFL Network echoed that sentiment by essentially guaranteeing Johnson's departure.
Also from @MikeSilver: Titans RB Chris Johnson "almost certainly gone after this season with his big salary and lack of production.”— NFL Media PR (@InsideNFLMedia) December 8, 2013
Johnson spoke about the report on Monday (via Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com):
Chris Johnson says he wants to be with #Titans after this season but isn't worried because he knows he will be playing somewhere next year.— Terry McCormick (@terrymc13) December 9, 2013
Johnson signed a four-year, $53.5 million contract in September 2011. Following the 2013 season, he is still due $29 million over the next three seasons. After the Titans' free-agent spending spree this past offseason, they are apparently looking for some cap relief.
That isn't the only factor, however, as Johnson hasn't been nearly the same player since topping 2,000 yards in 2009. He hasn't come within 600 yards of 2,000 since then, and it's fair to say that he's not worth what he's getting paid.
Rapoport notes that Johnson may not be the only casualty this offseason:
Why is the Jake Locker 2015, fifth-year option relevant now? Titans must make it final this May, not next May. It’s a $13M decision.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 8, 2013
As for Locker, Munchak spoke about his status with the team on Monday (via John Glennon of The Tennessean):
Munchak says Locker is a tough decision at end of season. Says he still believes in him, but that team will consider "everything."— John Glennon (@glennonsports) December 9, 2013
Johnson is on pace for just over 1,000 yards this season, and he is averaging 3.8 yards per carry. His lowest total prior came in 2011, when he averaged 4.0 yards per carry.
Johnson's 2013 season started fairly well. In his first three games, he didn't register fewer than 70 yards rushing. But head coach Mike Munchak and Co. went away from that, and the higher-ups are not happy.
Front office built the Titans as a power-running, turnover-averse attack. Coaches got away from that after 3-1 start. Ownership not pleased— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) December 8, 2013
In some respects, the Titans transitioned to a pass-heavy attack due to Johnson's struggles. He has lost much of the explosiveness that made him a special player earlier in his career.
At 28, he may not have many productive seasons left. Evidently, that is what the Titans believe.
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