He refused to take a pay cut. His relationship with the Tennessee Titans seemed irreparable. Finally, Chris Johnson was released Friday.
After a week of discussion about DeSean Jackson’s release (for an entirely different reason) and about whether the Jets ought to try to sign him, another new offensive weapon hits free agency and becomes the biggest name, the only name to talk about.
Sources told New York Daily News’s Manish Mehta that the Jets are interested in Johnson “at the right price.” (He was scheduled to make $8 million in 2014 with Tennessee.) The Jets were also one of four teams reported to have looked into a trade for Johnson. Interestingly, two of the other teams are division rivals – the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins. The other was the Atlanta Falcons. Most see the Jets as the front-runners to sign Johnson. Is that a good thing? Yes.
Of course Johnson did not deserve $8 million this season after averaging 3.9 yards per carry last year. But he did still gain over 1,000 yards, a mark he’s never failed to reach in his six-year career. He carried the ball 279 times. In contrast, Chris Ivory had 182 rushing attempts and Bilal Powell had 176. The Jets could add Johnson to that rotation and basically cut both Johnson’s and Powell’s carries in half. It would also allow the Jets to cut Mike Goodson, and use the $720K in saved cap space to help pay Johnson’s new contract.
Do you remember the Monday Night Football game the Jets played against Tennessee in December of 2012? The Jets kept it close and low-scoring, but CJ2K broke off a 94-yard rushing touchdown that was ultimately the deciding score in the Titans’ win. He’s that dangerous that he can be hitting paydirt once he finds a lane. That’s the kind of weapon I want playing on my team, not against my team.
Yeah, I know Johnson was perceived as a bad apple in the Titans’ locker room, and I crusaded against the Jets signing DeSean Jackson for the same reason. But the alleged problems with Jackson in addition to the contract size he’d command outweighed the potential reward. Johnson may just need a new team and a coach like Rex Ryan to set him straight – and he’ll be signing with New York or whatever other team for a lot less than what Jackson got from Washington.
Yeah, Johnson turns 29 in September. He’s about to turn 30, which in running back years is 65. But no team is signing Johnson expecting to get four or five good years out of him.
Everyone on ESPN says the Jets are having a “quiet” offseason. Don’t listen to them; the Jets are trying to win now. They shocked the world by winning eight games in 2013, just outside a wild card position in the weaker AFC, and they signed the best wide receiver and biggest-name quarterback available in free agency. That quarterback, one Michael Vick, is turning 34 in June. So what’s a 30-year-old running back, too?
I think this calls for a discussion in the comment thread. Would you like Chris Johnson to suit up in green and white next year?
News and Notes: The Jets’ offseason workout program schedule has been released. The voluntary workout program begins April 21. Organized team activities (OTAs) will take place May 27-28 and 30 and June 2, 4-5 and 9-12. Mandatory minicamp will be held June 17-19.
~The Jets are apparently very interested in Oregon State wide receiver and Biletnkioff Award winner Brandin Cooks. He recently said on NFL Network, “It’s one of those things where it seems like everyone is interested. I have a trip to New York in April with the Jets. When (Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg) came out to my pro day, I definitely wanted to put on a show while at the same time, just play the game and do what I love to do.” He also has workouts scheduled for Carolina, New England and Seattle.