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Apr 4, 2014

RB Chris Johnson released by Titans; where does CJ2K land next?

By on 10:27 PM

Chris Johnson was once one of the brightest up-and-coming stars of the National Football League. Coming out of college, Johnson burned up (and down) the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, shooting him up the draft boards. He was drafted by the Tennessee Titans, where he made the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 2008.

In the following season, Johnson rushed for 2,000 yards. Its a measure not reached by many running backs in the NFL and the feat sparked the debate: Who's better, Johnson or Adrian Peterson?

Those days are behind us and that question has long been answered. The Titans began trying to trade Johnson this off-season before eventually cutting him Friday. The release of Johnson was first reported by Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

Johnson released the following statement:

“I’d like to thank all of my teammates, the fans, the staff and the coaches who have supported me throughout my journey with the Titans. I have grown so much as an individual and as teammate over the past few years, and I am excited about the opportunity to bring my experience and talents to a new organization. I’m looking forward to the next chapter and can’t wait to contribute to my new team.”

Johnson slipped to a career-low 3.9 rushing yards per carry in 2013 with 1,077 yards and six touchdowns. This does not make Johnson invaluable. He touches the ball at least 300 times per year and stays on the field. In fact, he has only missed one game in his career, that coming in his rookie season.

Johnson was set to make $8 million in 2014 under his old contract, and he might get roughly half that in free agency.

Speculation has already started to swirl of whether the three-time Pro Bowler’s next destination could be Rex Ryan’s team. Sources told the Daily News this week that the Jets have some level of interest in Johnson if the price is right. The Jets were among the teams that inquired about trading for Johnson, according to a source. The Bills, Dolphins and Falcons reportedly also looked into dealing for the 28-year-old running back. The New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys have also expressed interest.

The Jets, who have more than $25 million of salary-cap space, have taken a sensible approach thus far in free agency. Although Johnson’s production has dipped in recent years, he would be a good addition to the Jets’ backfield with Chris Ivory. A Johnson-Ivory tandem would be an improvement over last season’s running game.

The biggest question will be Johnson’s price tag. The depressed free-agent running back market this offseason suggests that Johnson is in line to get $3 million to $4 million annually. If he’s willing to accept a salary that fits in those parameters, Johnson could find a healthy number of bidders for his services once teams are officially free to bid for his services.


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