Chris Johnson Holdout Speculation: Trade Value and Potential Destinations
Running backs have the shortest shelf life of any position on the NFL field, considering the beating that their position takes.
In light of the lockout, Chris Johnson has stated that he is likely to hold out for a new deal should the labor situation be resolved.
Really, you can't blame Johnson for wanting to lock up as much money as possible before his performance inevitably goes downhill.
Now, we assess the trade value and possible destinations for the Titan running back.
Addressing Fanbase Bias
Too many fans have commented on Chris Johnson's holdout with a mixture of spite and jealousy—people don't want to see a man making exorbitant money without many skills other than athletic ability.
I can understand why a fan would demonize the NFL for the money that it shells out to its players, but it is unnecessary and uncalled for when a fan calls for Johnson's head in regards to the running back's holdout.
Johnson has put together a fine career thus far and with his peers making money around him, you can't blame him for feeling entitled to a new contract.
He may not be the "hard-working American" who is a doctor or a teacher and "deserves" all of that money, but the Titan provides a service that is in high demand and shouldn't be blamed for collecting a paycheck.
The Titans Should Trade Johnson
At this point, the Titans are in the throes of a major rebuild on both sides of the football—the drafting of Jake Locker signals the start of a new era in Tennessee.
The Titans have some talented players left, but only one real superstar with a trade value through the roof—that is Chris Johnson.
Tennessee could net some good, high draft picks with which to further commit to the rebuilding process, and the team could also find a younger running back to grow with Locker.
Keeping Johnson would be a counter-productive maneuver too focused on pleasing the fans—the number one mistake a rebuilding team can make.
Assessing Johnson's Trade Value
Johnson has accomplished much more than Portis had at that time, having posted a 2,000 yard season already—other than that, though, the numbers are similar.
Considering that Bailey was a four-time Pro Bowler at the time of the trade, let's consider that his value would be a first and second-rounder.
It's a crude way to assess value, but a first-rounder and two second-rounders seems about right for "CJ2K".
Possible Destinations: New England Patriots
The New England Patriots have a lot of draft picks to kick around for 2012, and with a need for a proven, playmaking running back, adding Chris Johnson to the fold would be crazy.
Imagine putting one of the most explosive running backs into one of the most explosive passing offenses in the NFL—the Patriots could go 16-0 again.
Sure the Patriots just drafted a few young running backs, and the team also has guys like Danny Woodhead and BenJarvus Green-Ellis on the roster, but turning down Johnson would be just silly.
Bill Belichick knows how to make good running backs out of bad ones—imagine him with this dynamic player.
Possible Destinations: New York Jets
Last year, Rex Ryan brought in LaDanian Tomlinson to be a pass-catching tailback and be the lightning to Shonn Greene's thunder.
While the experiment, for the most part, worked out, the Jets are back to square one with Tomlinson on the way out and Greene still somewhat unproven.
The whole dynamic of the Jet offense would become much different if the team brought in Johnson and the running back could be just the piece to get the Jets over the top and into the Super Bowl.
We're talking about a team that has been one win away from the Super Bowl for two straight years—Johnson could get them there.
Possible Destinations: Indianapolis Colts
It is unlikely that the Titans would willingly trade their star player inside of their division, but don't rule it out if the offer is right.
The Colts have been searching for a game-breaker at running back ever since Edgerrin James left, and Joseph Addai/Donald Brown haven't exactly been that.
Bringing in a 2,000-yard rusher would completely change everything for Indianapolis, as teams wouldn't sit so much on the pass like they did in 2010.
The Colt window of opportunity is closing and Indianapolis needs to do something quickly to help Peyton Manning win one more Super Bowl.
Possible Destinations: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on the rise and ready to make waves, but after Josh Freeman, it seems as though there is something missing offensively.
LeGarrette Blount is a fine, young running back, but putting Chris Johnson in the fold would make this team lethal.
Blount would benefit from taking less of a beating, becoming a situational, short-yardage back, while the Buccaneers could let Johnson do what he does best—run past everybody.
Tampa Bay needs a player to get them ahead of New Orleans and Chris Johnson would do more than just that.
Possible Destinations: Dallas Cowboys
Jerry Jones has tried to implement a scat back into his offense with Felix Jones and now DeMarco Murray.
There is no guarantee that Murray will be a real factor, and acquiring Johnson would really set the Cowboys apart in the NFC East.
Tony Romo, Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten are all big-time offensive performers—adding Chris Johnson to that mix would be straight-up lethal.
The Cowboys finished disappointingly last season but adding a playmaker of Johnson's caliber could help this team make serious waves in 2011.
Possible Destinations: New York Giants
We've already named one New York team on this list, yet the team across town wouldn't be a terrible fit, either.
Similar to the Buccaneer example, the Giants need another big offensive weapon to make serious noise in 2011.
Chris Johnson is all that...and more.
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