NFL Free Agency 2011: Chris Johnson Prepares for Holdout, Good News for Backups?

Ray TannockSenior Analyst IJuly 27, 2011

JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 18:  Running back Chris Johnson #28 of the Tennessee Titans warms up prior to the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on October 18, 2010 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson has made it abundantly clear that he will dig in and stage a holdout until he is given a brand-new contract for the upcoming 2011 season, which could be great news for his current backup Javon Ringer and rookie Jamie Harper.

Everyone should be aware of the fact that Johnson is looking for the big payoff, but the Titans historically never provide such deals to anyone.

To make matters worse, the Titans have him for another year and could apply the franchise tag in order to get Johnson to simmer down and play nicely.

This is not to say Johnson doesn’t deserve a sizable deal, because he does. But Johnson has to be careful with his approach since the Titans have leverage here.

So what does this mean for Ringer and the Clemson bruiser Harper?

Well, for starters, it means this would be a fine time to show what you are made of and take advantage of the expected increase in playing time.

Javon Ringer served as a quality handcuff back to Johnson in 2010, rushing for 239 yards on 51 carries and scoring two rushing touchdowns (a 4.7 yard-per-carry average compared to Johnson's 4.3) and should see the bulk of the expected overload of work.

Jamie Harper is a sizable bruiser-type back out of Clemson who always played the backup role in Clemson until 2010, where he led the team with 197 carries and 682 yards rushing.

TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 28:  Running back Jamie Harper #8 of the Clemson Tigers warms up in the 50-degree temperatures on a chill machine against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the 2009 ACC Football Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium on December
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Subpar numbers for a lead back in Clemson’s system, historically.

But the minute thought of Ringer and Harper making for an interim one-two back approach is a notion that the Titans will be forced to explore should Johnson hold true to his initial threat.

Johnson does deserve something far greater than his $800,000 incentive-laced 2011 contract, but that means nothing to a couple of backs playing BEHIND one of the league’s most elite rushers—a back that prevents these guys from becoming starters themselves.

I don’t see the Titans NOT offering something to Chris Johnson, but it may not be the earth-shattering deal Johnson is expecting.

And that could mean a slight chance of Johnson going elsewhere.

While that possibility is small, it is NOT at all out of the question, which means Ringer and Harper better show how valuable they really are now, just in case opportunity comes knocking in the future.

What do you guys think? Let me know what you think the Titans should do here, and if interested come check out some great fantasy football sleeper advice if you're a fantasy fan.