By mid-March, the Titans must decide whether to keep or cut Chris Johnson.
If he’s on the team’s roster on the fifth day of the league year, Johnson gets his base salary of $8 million. If the Titans cut ties with him, Bud Adams doesn’t have to write that check.
Coach Mike Munchak is on record as saying he expects Johnson to be on the roster, although he acknowledges the final personnel call lies with GM Mike Reinfeldt and, ultimately, the owner.
“I would assume that he is going to be on our roster, yes,” Munchak said.
And in a moment of candor that is rare for those in his chosen profession, Munchak verbalized what most of us have been saying for the last several months: Johnson is no longer the 4.24-second blur he was at the ’08 combine.
“Is he a step slower? Yeah, I’m sure he is,” Munchak said when asked if Joshson had lost some of his speed. “I don’t know how you would measure that exactly, but I’m sure he has.”
Is Johnson running on empty? I honestly don’t think so. While he has lost a touch of speed, his failure to break long runs appeared to be rooted in a lack of confidence.
In the past, Johnson would find an opening and accelerate through traffic. This season, he seemed unsure that he could get to and through the hole. And let’s not pretend that the blocking was there. Pass protection was excellent. Run blocking? Not so good.