With deal done, Titans must weigh how much work CJ can handle

Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 1:32pm

The primary question in regard to Chris Johnson remains unchanged.

How much is too much?

Only now, instead of wondering about money, the issue pertains to workload. With the six-year, $53 million package agreed upon Thursday, which will keep Johnson with the Tennessee Titans through 2016, everyone involved has more than a week to figure out what is reasonable to expect from the record-setting running back in the opening weeks of the regular season beginning with the Sept. 11 opener at Jacksonville.

“I’m sure he could do some good things in a short period of time because he is a special type of player,” coach Mike Munchak said recently. “But for us to think he is going to touch the ball 30-plus times [against Jacksonville] … it's highly likely he would be able to do that and do it well without having injury issues.”

Johnson officially has handled the ball 786 times (674 rushes, 94 receptions) over the last two seasons — a significant number — without having missed a game. He played the 2010 season after having trained on his own throughout the offseason but took part in training camp.

Last season he carried 27 times in a Week 1 victory over the Oakland Raiders.

“The good thing is we got it done,” general manager Mike Reinfeldt said. “He has nine or 10 days to get ready and get a lot of practice time. It’s been a distraction, but I think the good thing is we got it right — and for six years Chris Johnson is going to be a Titan.”

The sides agreed to a four-year extension worth $53.5 million and increases what Johnson will make this season to $13 million. That, combined with the remaining two years of his current contract, makes the entire package worth $56 million over six years. Of that, $30 million is guaranteed — the most ever for a running back in the NFL.

Johnson was not with the Titans for their victory Thursday night in New Orleans. He was scheduled to report to the team Friday to sign the deal and take his physical.

“This was a tough one because he had two years left on his deal at the same time [his goal of] being the highest paid running back … there were a lot of issues we had to deal with,” Reinfeldt said. “At the same time, I think we got it right. Both sides had to compromise some and both sides had to give up some things, but at the end of the day we got, probably, the right deal.

“It gives us the opportunity to kind of put together the team and work the cap and still have a lot of other parts that we need.”

10 Comments on this post:

By: parnell3rd on 9/1/11 at 12:05

If you or I had refused to come to work, under contract, or no contract, we would have been fired.

By: govskeptic on 9/1/11 at 12:41

Is anyone really surprised at this late signing? Neither Chris nor the
Titans wanted him injured during these first 3 exhibition games! Of
course, if he fumbles a few hand offs creating an opposing score in the
early games it's probably going to be because of lack in timing practice!

By: jwk6179 on 9/1/11 at 12:56

If Chris Johnson doesn't break an 80 yard run for a Touch Down on his very first play of the season, I think the REAL Titan fans should BOO HIM Unmercifully.

By: bfra on 9/1/11 at 1:24

I have been a fan of CJs, until his remark about fake Titan fans. Uncalled for! I have never met a "fake" Titan fan at any ball game or in conversations about the Titans.

By: dargent7 on 9/1/11 at 4:26

Well, goody-goody.
The ganster/ thug got his millions.
$30 million guaranteed?
$13. million a year?
For what?
Running a football?
Sick.

By: serr8d on 9/2/11 at 5:44

It's a good thing, this contract, for Chris Johnson. I'm still picking my jaw up off the floor, absorbing the numbers, and realizing that Bud Adams isn't in charge (at least not at the levels that he was) anymore. Can't see the old gentleman approving this deal a couple years ago.

But, it's done, and we move forward.

I would recommend not 'pounding' CJ as a second coming of Eddie George, because he's just not going to be able to take that. As a matter of having him in the backfield on every snap, sure, perhaps as a faux-tight-end, catching many short passes.

Realize that whatever he does, the opposing players, being human (and many even more covetous and jealous than even that lout who posted just above me) will use him as a practice dummy, and maybe unload just a bit harder, thinking of that big contract.

Good luck, CJ, and realize you've earned high expectations. Failure to deliver for whatever reason will be considered unacceptable.

By: not_guilty on 9/2/11 at 9:31

Chris Johnson is an outstanding running back, but the Titans' record during the three years he has played is 27-22. Thirteen of those wins came during CJ's rookie year, when the team had two 1,000 yard running backs.

The Titans still need a bigger running back for critical short yardage situations.

Let's hope that, having secured his deal, Goldteeth doesn't now become a skinnier version of Albert Haynesworth in regard to his work ethic.

By: ahavard on 9/2/11 at 11:11

dargent7- Why do you call CJ a Gangster/Thug. What makes him either of those things. He certainly does not get into trouble off the field and he has not been a problem in the locker room. Are you upset because he held out for millions? Is it the hair or is it the obvious? CJ is right we should not compare ourselves to professional athletes who make millions because we can't do what they can! It is a shame because athletes get paid more than the true heros such as our troops and teachers; But this is the world that we live in where we pay athletes millions to entertain us. You have the option of not spending your money on the games or not watching. If we don't get upset when an owner cuts a player with a contract then we should not get upset with a player who is holding out for more money. That being said; IF HE DOESNT PRODUCE OR GETS LAZY NOW THAT HE HAS THE MONEY CUT HIS ARSE !!!!!!!!!!!!!

By: ahavard on 9/2/11 at 12:48

serr8d- Good post !!

By: TITAN1 on 9/2/11 at 1:56

Glad the deal got done, sounds like it was good for both sides. He does have a lot to live up to, but I'll never boo him or any Titan player, never have. But those who will, paid for that right.