The Chris Johnson drama continues to unfold in Tennessee as the Titans have listed the star running back on the reserve/did not report list.
As contract talks remain at an standstill and Chris Johnson continues his personal strike against his team, Titans' coach Mike Munchak has eluded to the possibility of adding a veteran to the roster to help close the experience gap between his running backs.
Although it can be said Javon Ringer and Jaime Harper have the potential to provide an adequate running game, Munchak is looking for an insurance policy while the team waits for Johnson and the team to come to an agreement.
With roster cuts coming fast and furious during the next few days, here is a look at some possible veterans who could be signed by the Titans without costing too much but add the experience the team is looking for.
With the current situation in Detroit, Mike Bell is the expendable back. Although he is not a star back in any way, he has had NFL experience and can add depth to the roster. He had two seasons, which he accumulated more than 600 yards, and scored more than five touchdowns. Although he may not be the best running back, for a short term minimal contract, he is worth looking at.
While the thought of the gamble of actually signing Portis, the role that he would provide would be more as a limited back in the Titans offense. Although his best years are far behind him, he could add the depth and provide the veteran experience the team is interested in without costing too much. If Johnson does sign, he is easily cut. Portis could sign for the veteran minimum and contribute something to the team in the role he is given. By the way, he needs the money.
Another name from years past, Westbrook isn't set to be a starting back, but has the ability to contribute in the areas the Titans are looking for. He has a decent record, scoring 41 touchdowns during nine seasons and a respectable yards per carry average at around four. Westbrook would be able to take more of a role than a Clinton Portis, however, I would still look for Ringer to provide the majority of the carries. The downfall here is the price tag attached to him.
With the expected cut of Taylor from the Bears, this may be the most legitimate choice for the Titans to act on. Taylor has been an able back and always seems to be on a team where he is buried behind talent that prevented him from starting. In Minnesota it was Adrian Peterson, in Chicago, Matt Forte. With the Bears signing Marion Barber, Taylor is expendable and would be a good fit in Tennessee. Although he has been quiet in Chicago, a change of scenery could be all that is needed and would improve the Titans' ground game in Johnson's absence.
Not exactly the optimal choice, Buckhalter could be acquired and fill the role in situational carries, helping Ringer and Harper in the backfield. With Correll Buckhalter you would be getting ability and experience without losing too much money while you wait for Johnson to sign. A strong possibility if the Buccaneers or some other team do not grab him off the scrapheap.
If Fred Taylor could be signed, would you want to take the gamble? If this signing were to happen, the Titans would get a veteran who is capable of being a veteran workhorse that has had a decent pedigree of yards per carry and touchdowns. I don't really see it happening, but in the NFL you never know.
Although it is apparent that no one is going to fill Chris Johnson's shoes, it needs to be acknowledged that this team does need the veteran touch at running back.
I think the team should be able to manage an effective running attack with whom they have now, but I do see the added depth and experience the veteran back could bring to this team.
It seems that Johnson is trying every angle he can to force the team into agreeing to his demands and is hoping the possibility of the running game becoming anemic will do just that.
This will be interesting to watch as it unfolds.