The Tennessee Titans have announced today that running back Chris Johnson will not be returning to the team for the 2014 season. Tennessee plans on shopping the 28 year-old running back as trait bait, but if no takers can be found, they will hand him his outright release. Johnson’s contract for the next two years is more than the Titans are willing to pay a running back whose numbers have continued to decline since his spectacular 2,006 yard performance during the 2009 season. By moving on without Johnson, the Titans can save $10 million in salary cap room both this year as well as in 2015.
At 28 years-old, Johnson still has gas left in the tank. He has rushed for at least 1.047 yards in every year of his career, though none have come within 600 yards of his 2009 total. He has also only scored more than 10 touchdowns on the ground one time since his breakout season. However, Johnson’s receiving abilities and production add to his value. In addition, his big play potential far outweighs the average NFL back. Every time he touches the ball, Johnson could take it to the house. In fact, he thinks that every time he carries the ball he should go the distance. The problem with his mentality, however, is that when he does not, he blames everyone else but himself. This type of attitude can be detrimental to the success of an offense unit.
The New York Jets announced Sunday that they have cut ties with veteran cornerback Antonio Cromartie. Rumors have swirled in New York since the season ended that Cromartie would not be coming back to the team. He was scheduled to make close to $15 million this season with bonuses. By releasing him, the Jets will save close to $10 million towards the cap.
Talks between both parties have been ongoing up until today, with the two sides trying to reach a new number they could both live with. The Jets based their offer on Cromartie’s dismal play in 2013, a season that was by far his worst since he came in to the NFL. Cromartie blamed his poor performance on injuries, and wanted to be paid more in the range that his previous years as a Jet would suggest. In the end, he will have an opportunity to test the open market and gauge the interest teams will have in him. The free agent list of cornerbacks is quite extensive, however, and Cromartie may find few if any teams willing to pay him the money he is looking for. The door back to the Jets is not closed, and the team may bring him back if he cannot find a new home. However, he will have to be willing to take a pay cut. Cromartie was very classy in his exit from New York, thanking fans and the team both for the support he received in his time there.
The Minnesota Vikings made another strong personnel move by re-signing defense end Everson Griffen to a five-year deal worth $42.5 million. Griffen has not reached the status of superstar yet, but he has shown such excellent potential that the Vikings are willing to bet his play will reach the next level sooner rather than later. There is a risk that his potential may have already peaked. His 5.5 sacks in 2013 were 2.5 short of his 2012 total.
Commentary by Chris Chisam