It’s pretty apparent that the CJ2K we used to know is long gone. Since the 2009 season, when Chris Johnson exploded for 2,006 yards, 14 touchdowns and an additional 50 receptions, he has barely been able to retain the moniker of CJ1K. That being said, somehow, after averaging a career low 3.9 yards per carry this season, Johnson believes that the declining production isn’t his fault.
“I feel like if they are not going to use me the way I am supposed to be used and let me be the horse,” Johnson said to Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean, “then I would rather them let me move on.”
Next year Johnson is scheduled to make $8 million, which would place him second behind Adrian Peterson for the highest paid running back in the NFL. To some degree, it does seem like Johnson has a grasp of the responsibilities that come with a contract like his:
“I feel like if you give me $8 million, let me earn it. At crucial times of the game, I shouldn’t be on the sideline watching.”
The problem is that there is no reason to believe Johnson will ever be able to live up to the six-year $55 million contract he signed in 2011. Again, after the 14 rushing touchdowns he had in his defining 2009 campaign, Johnson has only managed to score 16 in the past three years combined.
While Johnson can argue that his decrease in production is due to a lack of opportunity, the real issue has been his decreasing yards per carry, which is largely consistent across varying rushing attempts. After averaging 4.9 and 5.6 yards a rush in his first two seasons, Johnson has only cracked the 4.5-yard mark once in the passed four.
As far as the Titans are concerned, this may just be the opportunity to unload the Johnson’s contract and get a head start on their rebuilding project. With the firing of Coach Mike Munchak, there aren’t many left in the organization with loyalties to Johnson. If they can reallocate some cap space towards building up their offensive line, then someone like Shonn Greene, who nearly averaged the same yards per carry as Johnson this season, may be just as serviceable.
The way it’s going, unless Tennessee hires a coach who feels the same way about Chris Johnson as Johnson does himself, there is a high likelihood he won’t be suiting up for the Titans next season.
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