Why Chris Johnson's Contract Dispute is Different


In a day and age when we are used to athletes not honoring their current contracts and demanding higher and higher pay increases, the situation in Nashville relating to Chris Johnson is different.  Johnson feels he has no other choice than to hold out at this point.  The Titans feel they have no other choice but to let him at this point.  This is not good.

The 2010 season would be Johnsons third year of a five-year contract in which he is set to earn a base salary of $550k.  While I am sure that very few of you reading this article, if any, will make 550K this year and would be happy to have that kind of money, we can probably all see where the sixth player to ever rush of 2,000 yards in a season might like a pay raise! (Author’s note: While at this time of this article posting it does not look likely that I will be making $550k this year either, I am waiting to see how today’s Powerball numbers shake out before making an official determination).

Vic Carucci of NFL.com wrote an interesting article this morning that explores this situation.  It has been mentioned that one of Johnson’s backups, Alvin Pearman, is set to make $650k this year.  I think rather than including this piece of information in the Chris Johnson dilemma we should leave it out.  All it really tells us is that the Titans are paying Pearman too much money!

While it is true that the St Louis Rams gave Steven Jackson a five-year deal worth $48 million in 2008, I think this fact helps the Titans more than Chris Johnson.  Jackson is only two years into that deal and just had back surgery in April.  Jackson is a phenomenal player but only scored four touchdowns last year due to the Rams pathetic offense.  Maybe the Rams should have spread that money around and not had such a crappy team? The fact they spent all that money on one player clearly hurt the quality of their overall team.  The Titans can’t make that mistake.

The Titans know that they need to improve the terms of Johnson’s contract but they know there is no possible way they can give him what he wants.  Because of the NFL limiting the increase in players base salary to 30%, the Titan’s hands are tied.  The only possible way to give Johnson the kind of money he wants is to make the majority of the money guaranteed and give it to him up front.  That is not going to happen.

Titans’ fans can rest easy in the short-term.  Chris Johnson says he is working out on his own right now.  He did that last year and the results seemed pretty good.  The long-term looks pretty bleak if the situation is as it appears, that both sides want something the other side can’t give.

What do you think? Is there a possible agreement that will satisfy both parties?

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  • http://bloggingdirty.com Troy Heinzman

    In the words of Teddy KGB, “pay that man his money.”

  • TNTitan89

    CJ is doing nothing but hurting his team when he misses OTAs. If he’s not prepared to sit out the whole season and make nothing at all, he needs to get back to Nashville. Everyone can say it’s just business, but that’s no excuse for leaving your team hanging. What if a player tries to hit a personal goal to trigger a bonus at the expense of the team winning? That’s just business, right?

    • http://NV-US.tk Spyda

      Throwing away a game for money and missing “voluntary” offseason workouts are two very different circumstances. This man led the league in rushing yards, yards per carry, and still had 50 rec. Not only does he desereve the money, but he would be doing himself and his colleagues a great injustice if he does not demand it. Football is a buisness first never forget that. If on Sunday September 12 2010 at 1:20 P.M. Chris Johnson get’s “horsecollar” tackled and blows out his knees (like Tyrone Calico) how much money do you think they’ll just give him? None. He’ll get the least amount of money the leauge can pay him, and have to live off that the rest of his life. Today, he’s worth over 8 million dollars a year, tomorrow who knows? So in the words of Cuba Gooding Jr. in Jerry Maguire “Show Me The Money!!!”

      • TNTitan89

        If on Sunday September 12 2010 at 1:20 P.M. Chris Johnson gets “horsecollar” tackled and blows out his knees and the Titans just paid him millions of dollars in guaranteed bonus money (which is the only way they could pay him right now), how much money do you think CJ would give back to the Titans? How would you feel about the damage done to the team who is now without a running back and can’t afford to hire another one because they just gave millions of guaranteed money to a guy that can’t give them anything in return?

        If CJ is not hurting his team by not being here, why in the world would he think staying away would prompt the Titans pay him more? The only reason you would pay the guy more than he already happily agreed to play for is because you think it’s better for the team for him to be here. That’s the whole point of a holdout – to cause pain to the organization until they agree to pay you more than you already agreed to take.

        I could live very comfortably off what CJ has already been paid, so you’ll get no pity from me. The Titans paid him millions before he ever stepped on the field, so he is just earning what they already paid him. Forget about his “low” base salary for 2010. Add in a portion of what he was given up front, and he’s doing just fine.

    • me

      cmon man he is the Best player in the nfl and hes earing 500k a year, thats insane he should be one of the highest payed players today. the shelf life for a rb is the shortest of any pro athlete. why would he want to risk injury while only gettin paid what hes making now? he would have to be dumb to play without having his contract reworked. if they dont want to pay him then trade him and let someone else pay this stud. hes worth it, he deserves it.

      • TNTitan89

        I don’t think you’re understanding the situation here. No one can just “pay the man” without giving him a huge guaranteed, non-refundable bonus. Rules prohibit more than a 30% raise in base pay. Chris just needs to be patient and keep doing what he does.

        He is not earning $500k a year. He has already been paid millions up front to play this year. $500k is simply the amount he hasn’t been paid yet.

        • me

          then they need to change that rule. the nfl is retarded, a rookie who is drafted in the top 10 who never played a single snap in the nfl makes more money than a record breaking rb entering his third season. and isnt that the whole thing with the nfl, that contracts arent guaranteed? if chris johnson gets the big extension he gets the guaranteed money (which he deserves and earned with his record breaking play) and if he gets hurt they can release him and not owe him his base salary. i hope he demands a kings ransom and the titans dont want to pay. he will end up on the chargers

  • http://bloggingdirty.com Troy Heinzman

    LBJ holds all the cards. The Titans can’t afford to be stingy because he will hold out and if Tennessee begins the season 0-2 or 1-3, the fans will put pressure on the management to bring him in. They know they have to do a deal so this is all a bluff attempt that players and teams go through all the time.

    CJ will get his money whether it’s from the Titans or someone else. The fact is he’s their best player by far so they should give him a raise. Careers are short.

    A deal will get done, in the meantime this is a convenient way to miss OTAs.

  • Nick Ewing

    I don’t see any possible way the Titans can give him the kind of front-loaded contract with the majority being guaranteed and paid up front that CJ will be satisfied with. I hope i’m wrong but I don’t think its about the money for CJ so much as its about being the top paid guy. If he holds out long enough he is going to hurt himself and the team. The longer this goes the worse it will be for everyone.

  • Leo

    There’s going to be rookies that will make more than Chris Johnson this season. That’s terrible, how do you justify that. These rookies haven’t even been on an NFL practice field, but they’ll make more than a proven NFL player. It’s sad, Titan pay the man what he’s worth. You know it’s the right thing to do.

    • TNTitan89

      There will be lots of rookies who make more than lots of guys who are proven — just like CJ did a couple of years ago when he was nobody. That’s the way it works. Some of those rookies won’t produce anything on the field, but they don’t give the money back. You play for what you agreed to for as long as you agreed to, and if you play well enough, someone will pay you a lot more the next time around. If you’re smart, you will get incentives added to your contract for accomplishments like POY or rushing for 2000 yards so that you do get paid if you outperform your basic contract.

      • Orlando

        Titan89 said Johnson made millions up front, but he’s getting paid to be a backup remember? Lendale was the starter they never expected CJ to start much less be an every down back. You cannot expect him to honor that contract when the NFL never honors a contract. Are you a real Titans fan?!! If you are then you remember what we did to Eddie George and Steve Mcnair…they both gave up money and back loaded their contracts so that we could sign other players to HELP the TEAM, then when it was time to honor the agreement they cut both of them; so much for honoring a contract. I almost gave up on the Titans b/c of that…should CJ make more money than Peyton Manning? H3ll no, but at least put him in the top 3 RBs paid in the NFL. Besides you’re looking at it from a jaded point of view. If you’re a broker and you are the top broker for your region and making 75K a year, but the worst broker in your division makes 120K you mean to tell me that you are not going to want to be paid just as much as he is or even more? If you tell me you’re okay with being paid less and producing more then you sir are a communist…no offense that’s the only system that I know that people like that exist.

        • TNTitan89

          If you think the Titans drafted Chris Johnson in the 1st round to simply back up LenDale White whom they had drafted in the 2nd round and had proven to be only mediocre, then I don’t know what to tell you.

          Communist? It’s not about wanting to be paid more or not. It’s about honoring your contract. In order to make the millions up front, you sell your rights to the franchise for the length of the contract. You agree to play for the money the contract stipulates or play for no one until the contract expires. This isn’t the real world where you can tell your boss you want a raise or you’ll quit and work for someone else. When you take that big signing bonus, you forfeit certain rights in exchange for all that guaranteed money.

          • Orlando

            I hear everything you are saying, but when the NFL does not honor the contract when it’s time to get rid of you what then? When they decided to move on in the cases of George and McNair who sacrificed money for the franchise what then? They released Eddie b/c they did not want to pay him a bonus that he had earned from the previous year…NFL teams don’t honor the life of the contract so why should the player. Look I don’t completely disagree with you on this point players should honor their contracts, but so should the owners so you just cannot lay all the blame at the players feet. Look at the end of the day it’s about Billionaires fighting with Millionaires…and the fans that make them all this money are the ones who really get the shaft. I was actually hoping Ryan Matthews or Spiller fell to us to send CJ a message…get your @ss to camp b/c you are replaceable!!!

          • TNTitan89

            Well, just one last word about NFL contracts. NFL teams are not failing to honor their contracts when they cut a player. The contracts state that the team can end the contract at any time, giving the player the right to sign with another team. That’s the reason for the large signing bonuses. Since the player does not have a guaranteed job, he wants a certain amount guaranteed up front in order to enter into such an arrangement. The bonuses that weren’t paid were not “owed” to the the player or “earned” by the player. Those are “roster bonuses” which state that the player must be paid a certain amount if he is on the roster on a certain date. Those are put in the contracts for the purpose of forcing the hand of the team to either pay the player another big chunk of guaranteed money or release him from the rest of his contract. In the case of Vince Young, the Titans decided to pay the bonus in order to keep VY for the remainder of his rookie contract. In the case of other players, they have elected to release the player.

            Fans act like players are so mistreated by teams, and it’s just ridiculous. These are grown men being paid more in a year than most make in a lifetime, just for playing a game that entertains people. These are grown men who willingly enter into contracts with other grown men. The thing that makes it strange is that there is only one organization, the NFL, that is willing to pay these this much money for these men’s services. Since that’s the case, they have a lot of leverage. But even though there is only one overall organization, there are 32 clubs that bid for their services, albeit within limits set by the league. If an elite athlete does not make enough money by honoring his contracts, then the fault is with his ability to negotiate a contract, not with the team who expects him to do what he said he would do.

            Thanks for the discussion, guys. I really hope the team will do what they can to reward CJ for his excellent performance. I just wish he’d handle the situation differently, not putting himself before the team by staying away while everyone else is working together to improve the team.

  • james

    all I got to say is pay the man because the titan’s without CJ is a bad thing to think about heading into the 2010 season

  • cashville83

    He did already get 7 million his rookie year so he’s not eating spam every night. With that said, it looked like they ran him into the ground last year. I cringed every time he took a big shot. We had quality depth with White and Ringer but I guess it all worked out in the end (2006 yards)! At the end of the day, I say use football, don’t let football use you. Because as soon as he does blow that knee out hypothetically, they will cut cut his ass and probably lock him out the facility. Get paid!! Go Titans!

  • titansfan71081

    I could be wrong but i havn’t heard cj say he was holding out.If anybody was paying attn last year then u know he skipped these voluntary camps last year as well preferring to work out in tx and we all know how that worked out

    • TNTitan89

      Last year he worked out on his own rather than taking part in the Titans’ off-season conditioning program, but he participated in the voluntary OTAs. This year he is staying away from both. All of the Titans’ OTAs are “voluntary,” so he hasn’t missed anything mandatory yet. We’ll see what he does come training camp time. If he still stays away, he’ll start getting fined then.

  • http://msn David Johnson

    Cris Johnson was the biggest reason the Titans won the games last year. get him back what ever it takes. If they are ever have any plans to go the Super Bowl You have to keep your best players. As far as getting hurt that is always a gamble.

  • ricardo

    i believe it will all work out for cj and the titans. and as for jeff, i also believe that bud will keep jeff as coach. titans building their defense will give them a better opportunity to make the playoffs. go titans !

  • crap

    cj is a beast and he needs more money to buy more cars and stuff. they should just give him 1 billion dollars in guaranteed money.

  • gunny

    I say let him play for what the contract states. As an undrafted player, he should be happy the Titans paid him what he has now and gave him a chance. I understand football is a business, but businesses have contracts that must be followed or there is a huge lawsuit for breach of contract. If CJ doesn’t want to play this year, then I would bench him for the following 2 as well and see what teams would like to have him in 3 years when he has not played!