Updates from Friday, April 4
The Titans officially announced Johnson's release via Twitter:
The #Titans informed RB Chris Johnson that he will be released today.— Tennessee Titans (@TennesseeTitans) April 4, 2014
The Tennessean's Jim Wyatt first reported the news everyone has been waiting for:
BREAKING: The #Titans have officially informed RB Chris Johnson he’s being released, per sources. The C.J. era is over in Tennessee.— Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) April 4, 2014
The #Titans save $6 million in salary cap room by releasing Johnson. He’ll count $4 million against the cap in 2014— Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) April 4, 2014
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Johnson will be released later Friday:
No great surprise, but Titans are releasing RB Chris Johnson today, per source close to situation. Johnson will be a free agent.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 4, 2014
Chris Johnson personally confirmed via Twitter he is heading to Tennessee for what are expected to be crunch talks with Titans officials Friday:
On my way! To Tennessee but stuck n airport as I tweet #SMH— Chris Johnson (@ChrisJohnson28) April 4, 2014
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports that Johnson is expected to have a physical, which he might fail, thus allowing the Titans to release him by claiming he failed a physical:
Yes, Chris Johnson will be at the Titans’ facility on Friday. Yes, he’ll take a physical.
Given that he had offseason knee surgery, there’s a chance he’ll fail the physical. And then the Titans would release him with the “failed physical” designation.
That ultimately won’t matter, since the minor knee procedure he had earlier this year was more of the clean-up variety. The 2011 CBA, however, gives all players protection against an injury that resulted in a release the following season under the “failed physical” designation. Under Article 45, Johnson will be eligible for $1.05 million from the Titans, if he can’t find work with another team.
For the Titans, it’s a simple analysis. Keep him and potentially owe $8 million, or cut him and potentially owe $1.05 million. With Johnson widely expected to land with a new team, the Titans most likely will be off the hook after cutting him.
Mike Garofolo of Fox Sports believes both the Giants and Cowboys will throw their hats into the ring for Johnson as well (h/t Pro Football Talk):
Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports reports that the Giants and Cowboys both expressed interest in Johnson when the Titans were trying to trade him earlier in the offseason and Garafolo expects both teams to do the same once Johnson is officially a free agent. The Cowboys picked Felix Jones two spots ahead of Johnson in 2008, a decision they’d likely like to have back.
ESPN's Clarence Hill reports that the Cowboys might not be interested in Johnson after all:
Per Cowboys sources, there is no interest in Chris Johnson...So pump your brakes— Clarence Hill (@clarencehilljr) April 4, 2014
Updates from Thursday, April 3
The Tennessean's Jim Wyatt reports that Johnson has a meeting with Titans brass Friday:
ESPN's Rich Cimini mentions the caveats attached to the Jets' potential interest:
Re: Chris Johnson: Jets' interest will hinge on asking price and willingness to accept different role. #nyj— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) April 4, 2014
Updates from Wednesday, April 2
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports Chris Johnson will likely be released within the next week:
Chris Wesseling of NFL.com later added:
After speaking with Titans management on Wednesday, agent Joel Segal told SiriusXM NFL Radio that Johnson it's only a "matter of time" before the organization cuts ties with Johnson.
Surprised by the Eagles' release of DeSean Jackson, Segal was reluctant to guess whether Johnson would be leaving Nashville via trade or cut.
Updates from Monday, March 31
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports Chris Johnson is receiving interest from the New York Jets:
#Titans offseason workouts begin a week from today. Expect a decision on Chris Johnson beforehand. Big week for CJ. He’ll know his fate soon— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 31, 2014
Why haven’t #Titans released Chris Johnson? There is some trade interest. Eventually, interest needs to turn to action. If not release comes— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 31, 2014
#Jets have been reluctant to dive into DeSean Jackson derby, but perhaps they’re allotting money for Chris Johnson. There is some interest— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 31, 2014
Updates from Sunday, March 30
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk has the latest on the potential market for Chris Johnson:
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Falcons have no interest in the current (for now) Titans tailback.
Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean recently suggested the Falcons as a potential landing spot for Johnson, a first-round pick in 2008. But while it’s likely Johnson will find a new home if/when (when) he’s released, that new home won’t be in Atlanta.
Updates from Friday, March 28
CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora has the latest on Johnson:
Titans very likely to release RB Chris Johnson next week after failed trade attempts. Would draw strong interest as FA as DeSean Jackson did— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 28, 2014
Updates from Thursday, March 27
Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean provides an update from Chris Johnson, speaking on the Titans' offseason workouts:
Yeah, I plan on being there. If I haven't been traded or released by that time, I will show up in Nashville and be ready to go from day one with the team. There's been a lot of speculation about the future, and where I'll be. But I am under contract with the Tennessee Titans. That's my team. And whatever team I am with when the offseason program starts, that is where I am showing up.
I want to run and lift with the team and do what I can to make the team better. If April 7 gets here and I am on the Tennessee roster, then I am going to show up ready to go.
Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio speculates this could prompt the Titans to attempt to block him from joining the workouts:
If/when Johnson arrives, the Titans will have to decide whether to let him participate.
If Johnson participates, he could drop a dumbbell on his foot or otherwise suffer a season-ending injury that would put the Titans on the hook for his full $8 million base salary.
And that could make the Titans tempted to block Johnson from entering the building.
The only problem? The Titans tried this before. In 2006. With Steve McNair. And it didn’t work.
Updates from Thursday, March 20
ESPN's Ed Werder reports teams around the league are intrigued by Chris Johnson:
Source says there's trade interest inTitans RB Chris Johnson. But doesn't seem to me Rams or Cardinals involved despite RB need.— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) March 20, 2014
Updates from Wednesday, March 19
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports that there is a market for a Johnson trade:
The Titans want to trade Chris Johnson. Johnson is willing to take less money (but not much less money) to make it happen.
For now, it could be working.
Per a league source, a trade market is emerging for Johnson. The market arises from real interest in Johnson from multiple teams.
For now, nothing is imminent. A trade would require both the Titans to be happy with the compensation and Johnson to be happy with the destination. Johnson also would have to be happy with his contract.
Updates from Thursday, March 13
According to Fox Football Daily, Chris Johnson is willing to restructure his deal:
Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean reports there are teams that may be interested in a trade:
The #Titans continue to shop running back Chris Johnson to other teams, and there's some interest around the league— Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) March 13, 2014
Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson, a strong candidate to be released this offseason, is hitting the trade block first.
At least that's the most recent rumor, according to a source close to Pro Football Talk:
Per league source, Titans will soon begin attempting to trade RB Chris Johnson. Full story coming at PFT.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) March 9, 2014
That seems ambitious.
There's little question Johnson has talent. He has shown game-breaking speed on several occasions in his career, and he is a reliable pass-catcher out of the backfield.
But he signed a four-year contract extension worth roughly $54 million prior to the 2011 season, and according to Spotrac.com, he has a base salary of $23 million over the next three years.
As NFL.com's Ian Rapoport noted, it's going to be difficult for the Titans to find anyone to take on the six-year veteran, who is coming off surgery to repair a torn meniscus:
It has been strongly assumed for a while now that the Titans would end up releasing Johnson, who has been unwilling to take a pay cut. According to Rapoport, that will be the next step should Tennessee be unable to strike a deal:
The Titans revamped their offensive line in anticipation of the 2013 season, but it simply resulted in another uninspiring season from Johnson, who has continually disappointed since rushing for 2,006 yards in 2009. Behind a tremendous left side in Michael Roos and Andy Levitre, he finished the year with career lows in yards per carry (3.9) and yards from scrimmage (1,422).
At the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, new head coach Ken Whisenhunt was asked about Johnson's future with the team, via CBS Sports' Will Brinson, and he was about as vague as could be:
Am I optimistic he'll remain on the team? It's a process you go through with everyone on your football team. Putting together the team is not an exact science. So we're under no deadline to do it. We have a lot of things to evaluate going forward. Chemistry's a big part of it. There's no rush to make a decision.
Where will Johnson be playing in 2014?
If Tennessee could get something in return for Johnson, that would be a bonus at this point. But all things considered, it's likely that any trade talk dries up fairly quickly and the 28-year-old is eventually sent to free agency.
Once there, however, the interest should heat up.