Tip Sheet notes: 2.5K unlikely for CJ
Originally Published: July 16, 2010By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com
A "CJ 2.5K" season isn't likely for 2010. In fact, it probably isn't even possible. Chris Johnson wants more money and he wants more yards, but the Tennessee Titans' tailback, who last season became the sixth player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season, is actually much more apt to see the former before he does the latter.
People familiar with the negotiations conceded to ESPN.com this week that a long-term deal for Johnson is unlikely, given the Titans' reluctance to re-structure the contract of a player only two seasons into a five-year deal. But those same folks confirmed reports that the two sides are discussing a short-term fix in which the Titans would accelerate future escalator payments, perhaps as much as $2.5 million, into Johnson's base salary of $550,000 for this season.
Johnson has said he is amenable to such an arrangement, and the compromise could be one way both sides can save face. Johnson employed the term "stalemate" to assess negotiations, but the Titans and agent Joel Segal definitely are talking and the discussions have been somewhat productive.
One big sticking point: Provided the Titans sweeten the pot for 2010, what happens in 2011? Johnson will still be scheduled to earn a base salary of $800,000, and there will still be two seasons remaining on the five-year, $12 million contract he signed as a first-round pick in the 2008 draft.
The Titans don't restructure deals with three years remaining. They almost never redo contracts with two years left. So while the sides might be close to a resolution that would allow Johnson to report to training camp on time, the horizon isn't exactly silver-lined. The club could face the same conundrum next spring, assuming there is football in 2011, and that's a dicey situation in itself.
On the field, provided he gets there for all or most of 2010, Johnson's publicly stated goal of 2,500 yards might be just about as impossible to achieve. To rush for 2,500 yards, a player would have to average 156.3 yards per game.
Johnson has five performances of 150-plus yards in 32 career games. Over the past five regular seasons in the entire league, there has been an average of 23 games per season of 150-yard rushing performances.