Chris Johnson Won't Play At Current Salary

Paul RaymondCorrespondent IJune 16, 2010

The Tennessee Titans and superstar running back Chris Johnson are setting up for a big battle as he refuses to play at his current salary of $550,000. This is a troubling but not unexpected, what was kind of unexpected is how Johnson is going about things.

“I can’t play for $550,000,’’ Johnson told Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean. “The money that I am playing for, I am getting paid less than the starting 11 (on offense) and I’m one of the lowest paid starting running backs in the league.’’

Just a couple months ago, I talked about how much of a stand up guy Chris was being about his contract talks. At that time, Chris was expressing his desire for a new contract but that he’d let it all take care of itself. He stated that he knew it was a business and things will take care of itself.

Now he’s talking about he CAN’T play for his current salary? That’s a big change in philosophy to me, or is it?

Back in February, Johnson was probably saying those things to seem like a good team player. It was just after the season and we still had months till the season began, so he probably figured let me play the good guy role and not cause a stink. BUT now that training camp is near, he’s now putting his foot down and is making his intentions really known. He wants his money and he wants it now.


Like I’ve said before I can’t blame him, he definitely deserves it but in the end the NFL is a business. When you’re under contract no matter how unfair it is, you have to suck it up and wait for the team to be ready to take care of you. Johnson at least understands that its a business but you got to wonder if he’ll treat it like such and respect what he signed.

“My teammates, they understand what I am going through, and know it’s a business,’’ Johnson said. “Anybody would be frustrated when they should be the top paid player and they are just making $550,000. Anybody would be frustrated, but at the end of the day it is a business thing. And I really understand first-hand the business part of the NFL.’’

Hopefully he’ll respect the business and show that he truly does understand it first-hand. If he doesn’t he can wind up costing himself a lot of money cause the Titans don’t have to negotiate if they don’t want too.

The Titans have cited the “30 percent” rule which caps how much they can raise his base salary. When his time comes for a new deal he’ll get a huge bonus but he’s going to have a substantial base salary as well. No team is going to want make a $40 million plus deal as a signing bonus, that’s just ludicrous.

The other thing working against him is the “30 day” rule. If Johnson decides to be a hard ass and hold out, within 30 days of the start of the season, he’ll lose a year of service time and be under team control for even longer.

So in the end, Johnson will be in training camp. How long it takes him who knows, but he’ll be there. He’s got too much money on the line not too. His best bet is to go in do what he did in 2009 again, and things will take care of themselves. The question is will he realize it.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,’’ Johnson said. “Right now, though, I am just staying in the best shape I can so I’ll be ready whenever I do get back on the field. I just don’t know when that will be.’’