Chris Johnson became only the sixth player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 or more yards in a single season. Not only did he accomplish that feat, but Johnson broke Marshall Faulk‘s single-season total yard mark (2,429) by compiling 2,509 total yards. Johnson’s 16 total touchdowns were tied for second-most among running backs.
After breaking out in 2009, Johnson enters 2010 with only one problem: his contract.
Johnson is currently entering the third season of five-year, $12 million rookie contract. Johnson is set to earn a base salary of $550,000, but his pro-rated performance could take the contract over $1.5 million.
On Wednesday, Johnson told reporters after his youth football camp that he’s not happy with the current situation.
“I can’t play for $550,000.”
So far, Johnson has skipped all of the Titans voluntary workouts and a lengthy-holdout is definitely possible.
So what does this mean for fantasy owners?
Financials aside, players who hold out for an extended period of time tend to start the season off slowly. Just ask Roddy White.
Fans know that White went to the Pro Bowl last year, but most do not remember that he held out until August 9 before receiving a six-year, $48 million extension, which made him the third-highest paid receiver in the league. White struggled early, managing to grab an average of five passes for 40 yards with only one score over the first three weeks of the season. However, Week 4 served as a much-needed bye week for White. White received an extra week of practice with Matt Ryan and it paid huge dividends. White averaged a little over five catches and 80 yards a week while pulling in 10 touchdowns over his last 13 games.
During his first five weeks, Johnson will have a few tough tests. In Week 2, he will tangle with a Steeler defense that held him to only 68 total yards last season. In Week 5, he will square off against a hard-nosed Cowboy defense that held opponents to 90 rushing yards per game. Getting Johnson onto the field as soon as possible is crucial for the Titans early season success. Management knows this. Johnson knows this. Sharks know this.
My advice to owners: Don’t sweat this. Johnson and the Titans will likely agree on a new deal prior to or early on in training camp. Maurice Jones-Drew received a new contract last season, netting him roughly $13 million per season. We would have to figure Johnson is seeking a deal in that neighborhood.
Even if this holdout goes into training camp, use it to your advantage. Some owners may opt to draft Jones-Drew or Ray Rice over Johnson in fear of him not playing this season. Rice and Jones-Drew are top players, but they do not have the same moxie that Johnson possess. Laugh at those who pass on Johnson and realize that he has easiest playoff schedule (