Tennessee Titans veteran running back Chris Johnson is reportedly receiving interest from the New York Jets, according to NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport via Twitter:
#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
Rapoport adds that the Titans are running out of time to make a decision on the 28-year-old and that a release is likely if they're unable to cash in on the outside interest:
#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
Over the weekend, ESPNNewYork.com's Rich Cimini highlighted Johnson as a name to watch for the Jets:
The Jets are interested in acquiring a veteran, and the name to watch is Chris Johnson. Yeah, that Chris Johnson, who likely will be released by the Tennessee Titans. The Jets need speed, and Johnson has speed. I'm not sure he'd want to play for the Jets and be part of a committee, but I could see the Jets showing interest, depending on his price. He'd be a nice complement to Ivory, a thunder-and-lightning tandem.
Johnson was reportedly on the trade block in early March and his $8 million base salary in 2014 makes him a strong candidate to be released before the team begins offseason workouts this April.
Johnson is heading into the second year of a four-year, $54 million contract that is scheduled to pay him a combined base salary of $15 million over the final two seasons in 2015 and 2016, according to Spotrac.com.
At the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine in February, newly-hired Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt admitted that there was no rush to commit to Johnson, per CBS Sports' Will Brinson:
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.
But with Tennessee still having yet to commit, it appears that the Chris Johnson era in Nashville will soon be coming to an end. After all, he's coming off his second lackluster campaign in three seasons and will turn 29 in September.
2013 marked the seventh straight season that Johnson rushed for more than 1,000 yards, but his 3.9 yards-per-carry average was the lowest of his career. His six rushing touchdowns were the second-lowest output of his career. Having carried the ball well over 1,700 times in his career and only having rushed for 16 touchdowns over the past three seasons, it's clear why the Titans are hesitant to move forward with Johnson and his massive contract.
For a team in need of a spark, Johnson makes plenty of sense. He's proven to be a durable runner and when in space, Johnson is one of the toughest playmakers to bring down.
It remains to be seen which others teams are in play for Johnson this spring, but with time running out for the Titans, the veteran could be wearing a different color jersey in the near future.
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