Chris Johnson has 7,965 yards in his NFL career. His average per carry is 4.6 yards. He has rushed for 50 touchdowns. If you were to average this running back’s yard total in the six years he’s played, it would total 1,327.5 yards a year.
And yet the Tennessee Titans want to consider the option of trading their 28-year-old star running back Chris Johnson.
Around the NFL, they say the great running backs only have about four good years in them. There might be some validity to that statement. Take the Jacksonville Jaguars stud running back, Maurice Jones-Drew. His 2013 season was slowed by injuries and uncharacteristic fumbling. How about the Houston Texans running back, Arian Foster? In 2013, after coming off back-to-back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons, he missed the final nine games with a season-ending injury.
We can go even further – because the Titans are entertaining, in the back of their minds, to have someone willing to trade for a running back with the tread on the tires wearing a little thin. Teams don’t want to be burned – like the Atlanta Falcons. Going into the 2013 season, the Falcons believed that all they needed to advance from the NFC Championship to the Super Bowl was a stud running back. Since Michael Turner wasn’t cutting the mustard, they signed former St. Louis Rams all-purpose bruiser, Stephen Jackson. His 2013 season was the same as the Falcons – miserable. Both Jackson, and the team, showed flashes of brilliance but floundered as they went from 13-3 in 2012 to 4-12. Then there’s the curious case of one Brandon Jacobs. After the Giants last Super Bowl championship run, he signed with the San Francisco 49ers – and if he played one down for them in 2012 – he played a LOT. He resigned with the Giants in 2013 – and is now retired.
In other words: It’s hard out here on these streets for a veteran NFL running back!
Chris Johnson burst onto the scene sharing time with the USC standout LenDale White (where is he, now?) in 2008. When CJ got the chance to tote the football in all situations, in 2009, he gained over 2,000 yards – only the 7th running back to ever eclipse one of the NFL’s Holy Grail marks. Ever since he made the proclamation that he would gain over 2,500 yards in 2010, he gained a little over half of that total. Because of putting the mark out there, many viewed 2010 a disappointing one for Johnson.
Even though he’s gained over 1,000 yard in each of his six seasons, the expectations from the fan base and front office has been for him to do more. Many have whispered that his time is done. He won’t e able to repeat his 2009 season. Quite frankly – who can? Even the great Barry Sanders only gained 2,000 yards in a season once in his illustrious career! So why heap the pressure on Johnson?
If the Titans pull the trigger and trade him, it would be a huge mistake. Instead, surround him with a better offensive line. Make a bigger commitment to put better skill position players around him. Get a more reliable runner to help spell CJ than Shonn Greene – preferably a bruiser. Build your offense around Johnson and have him gather some rest at strategic points throughout the game.
Dangling him out to the NFL market as trade bait tends to put a salty taste in your players’ mouths. Even though he hasn’t had the 2,000-yard-season, Chris Johnson can still contribute a lot to the Tennessee Titan offense. The organization has to practice wisdom and patience in order to see his full potential realized once again on the gridiron.