Dec 8, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson (28) reacts on the sidelines late in the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Titans 51-28. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Reality has set in for Tennessee Titans enthusiasts who were hopeful that Chris Johnson would receive one last opportunity to extend his stay with the two-toned blue. The former 2,000-yard rusher and one of the NFL’s most exciting playmakers has been informed of his release. This release will save the team approximately $6 million in cap space. This gives them approximately $15 million which the team can use to sign draft picks and piece together their roster with more affordable free agents.
Excluding fullbacks, the running backs who are currently on the roster include Shonn Greene, Jackie Battle, return specialist Leon Washington and utilityman Dexter McCluster. It’s certain that this team will use one of its six draft picks on a new running back. It often takes rookie running backs one-half of a season to get acclimated with the playbook, blocking schemes and overall feel for the game. So while a rookie may get playing time as a role-player, expect Shonn Greene to start the season as the No. 1 running back or at least get the most snaps.
Releasing Johnson means that the franchise has lost two of its biggest stars. Last month, Alterraun Verner departed for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The 2013 Pro Bowl cornerback signed for less than $7 million per season. Surprising when one considers that Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields netted a four-year, $39 million deal. Verner is far more proven than Shields, although Shields is good in his own right.
Johnson has a lot of controversy that surrounds him. Some fans dislike him and accuse him of having a self-centered ego. Despite rushing for 1,000-plus yards in each of his first six seasons, Johnson has never come close to reproducing his 2009-10 season which included 2,006 rushing yards. Johnson leaves the team as its third all-time leading rusher with 7,965 yards. Only topping that are Eddie George (10,009 yards) and Earl Campbell (8,574 yards). Johnson’s 4.6 rushing average is higher than both of them.
A new era awaits. Are you excited about it? Do you agree or disagree with this move? What are your fondest memories of him? Discuss in the comments, Twitter or Facebook.