After the customary first stop at quarterback, our next stop as we travel around the Tennessee Titans position by position as we head into the 2014 offseason is the running back position.
As he does at quarterback, but even more so, new head coach Ken Whisenhunt must start with a major personnel decision. It makes a great deal of sense to keep Jake Locker on the roster; he's young enough to be promising, fairly inexpensive, and you don't save any money on either the cap or in cash by cutting him. Chris Johnson, on the other hand, is due $8 million in non-guaranteed salary, meaning cash savings of that much and a reduction of his cap hit by potentially that much. That's an awful big base salary for a running back, though of course the Titans kept him at even bigger salaries in 2012 and 2013.
Will the Titans actually cut Johnson? Whisenhunt and general manager Ruston Webster have been generally non-committal about CJ's future, even moreso than they have been about Jake Locker's status. As I noted in last year's offseason positional analysis, I thought the Titans were so unlikely to cut CJ that it wasn't even worth writing a post on the subject? Now, I think things may have changed. The cap hit to cut him is less. He's played three seasons since he was signed to his massive extension. It's psychologically easier and easier to sell as a move when it comes after hiring a new coach and a change in offensive philosophy My guess, and I stress it is just a guess though I would bet money on it at even odds, is that the Titans do indeed cut Chris Johnson.
Unlike the past couple seasons there is no salary guarantee that kicks in in February so there is no need to do it immediately, but my prediction is that Chris Johnson will not come to training camp this year as a member of the Tennessee Titans. More likely, if his recovery from offseason meniscus surgery permits, I think he'll be gone before the first OTA, or at least that's what I would do if I were Ken Whisenhunt.no comments