This NFL offseason has been one big headline after another; it started with the Eagles’ surprising release of DeSean Jackson because of attitude issues, and continues now with the Titans release of Pro-Bowl running back Chris Johnson. Like Jackson, Johnson will find a new home soon. Despite the explanation given by Titans management, he is still an elite talent with the potential to control games singlehandedly.
First, let’s look at why Johnson was released by the Titans. According to an article written by Will Brinson of CBS Sports, the coaching staff took issue with Johnson’s work ethic and mindset in the game. The article continues to say that he was sometimes too laid back and did not give enough effort. Johnson was unwilling to take any pay cuts or negotiate a lower salary, and the Titans simply could not find a favorable trade agreement that they could lock down.
So the pressing question is, who will sign Chris Johnson? Most teams want to get their hands on a guy that ran a 4.24 40-yard dash and rushed for over 2,000 yards in a single season, but right now it looks like the Jets are the frontrunners in this deal. The Jets have had a busy offseason, but with this new development it looks like they are finally putting all the pieces together to make some waves this coming regular season. Though it is still up in the air, I think the Jets would be a nice home for Johnson. They will certainly be a run-first team, which means Johnson will be able to find his rhythm and work under a decent offensive line, but he will also be a threat in the passing game because we know quarterback Geno Smith loves throwing to his running backs.
The Titans got the short end of the stick in this decision because – whether they wanted him or not – Johnson was their playmaker. Now they need to go looking for a new running back to replace the talent they lost, which will be hard. They now either have to rely on Shonn Greene and Jackie Battle to be their feature backs or go out and sign a free agent.
Sadly, most of the top free agents have already been signed, so the pool is very shallow. Andre Brown and Willis McGahee are top names, both solid players, but none to the likes of Johnson. The Titans either need to either make some blockbuster trades this season or wait until 2015 to regain some of their talent. Unless Tennessee can significantly ramp up its passing game behind Jake Locker or a different quarterback, it looks like they will have another average season with a below .500 record.
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