The Case for Keeping Tennessee Titans Running Back Chris Johnson

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Dec 29, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson (28) is tackled by Houston Texans middle linebacker Jeff Tarpinian (52) and teammate Houston Texans free safety Shiloh Keo (31) during the second half at LP Field. Tennessee won 16-10. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Cap Number

Johnson has 3 years left on his current contract and currently counts $10,000,000 against the cap in 2014. No doubt that is a high number, but the Titans do not have a terrible salary cap situation.

The Titans’ $6.3 million in cap space is ranked 20th in the NFL. The bottom four teams start 2014 over the cap, which means immediate cuts are necessary.

As an example, the Dallas Cowboys are, by far, in last place. Look for cuts and contract restructures to abound from Dallas just to get back under the cap. They will be in emergency mode.

Rather than pulling the fire alarm and panicking, the Titans will not be forced to cut anyone. They could feasibly keep Johnson for another year. If cap space is needed, they could cut the far less-talented group of Kamerion Wimbley, David Stewart and Craig Stevens. These cuts would clear up an additional $11.2 million in cap space. That extra boost would give them the 13th best cap situation out of 32 teams.

Furthermore, cutting Johnson in 2014 would create $4,000,000 of dead money. If the Titans are facing a similar decision in 2015, cutting him and his $10,000,000 cap number would only create $2,000,000 of dead money next year.