The inevitable finally happened on Friday: The Tennessee Titans released running back Chris Johnson, according to a tweet from Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean:
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
Why was his release inevitable?
For a considerable amount of time, Johnson was being shopped by the Titans. The running back was supposed to make a base salary of $8 million in 2014, according to Spotrac.com—an amount the team was not willing to pay to a declining player.
Johnson spent all six of his years in the NFL in Tennessee with varied results.
He eclipsed the 2,000-yard mark in 2010, averaging a career-high 5.6 yards per carry and scoring 14 touchdowns.
In each of his first five seasons, Johnson averaged no less than 4.0 yards per carry. However, in 2013, his production took a nosedive.
Chris Johnson's streak of 6 straight 1,000-yd seasons is longest active streak in NFL. Nobody has current streak longer than three years.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 4, 2014
Johnson averaged just 3.9 yards per carry last season—a low number for a running back considered to be a major home run threat. Needless to say, he was no longer worth his lucrative contract.
His big-money contract was one of the major reasons why the Titans couldn't find a suitor in a trade. General manager Ruston Webster issued this statement via Tennessee's official website:
As an organization, we want to thank Chris for his contributions to the Titans. Chris produced many memorable moments, broke franchise records and was durable over his six year career with our team.
We have had an open dialogue with Chris' agent, Joel Segal, over the last few weeks, and we appreciate the patience and professionalism they have shown throughout this process. We made an effort to trade Chris but were unable to do so.
We wish Chris the best and thank him for the six seasons he spent with us.
It's not as if Johnson was suddenly deemed unusable by every other NFL franchise; however, none were willing to take on his hefty price tag.
Tennessee's inability to successfully trade the running back should be a wake-up call for Johnson.
It didn't happen.
It's now time for the man known as "CJ2k" to put his ego aside and accept that fact that he is not worthy of being paid as one of the league's top backs.
Chris Johnson is one of 7 players in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season (had 2,006 in 2009).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 4, 2014
He could still be very effective in a complementary role, and several NFL teams—namely the Jets, Giants and Cowboys—are already considered to be potential suitors, according to Chris Wesseling of NFL.com.
Although, if any of these teams are to strike a deal, it shouldn't be worth much more than the salaries of players such as Knowshon Moreno, Ben Tate and BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who average roughly $3 million per year, according to Spotrac.com.
There's no doubt that Johnson will be wearing a new uniform in 2014; however, it will have to be at a discounted rate.