We’ve heard several times this offseason that Ravens running back Ray Rice wants to be paid like one of the NFL’s elite running backs, and that the player and the team are far apart in contract talks.
But Sal Paolantonio of ESPN might have had the report that put the distance between the Ravens and Rice into the starkest terms yet: Paolantonio said that when talking to a senior Ravens official about reports that Rice wants Adrian Peterson money or at least Chris Johnson money, that senior team official said, “That is simply not going to happen.”
Peterson signed a seven-year, $100 million deal with $36 million guaranteed, while Johnson signed a six-year, $56 million contract with $30 million guaranteed. Rice can’t expect to get that.
This sounds bad -- and it may very well be bad -- but Rice has to recognize that the Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson contracts have not worked out for the Vikings and Titans, respectively. Hopefully he will lower his asking price to a point that's palatable to the Ravens, and soon. A protracted, CJ1K-style hold out would make him a riskier pick on draft day. Johnson never looked like himself in 2011 and Rice would be running the same risk.
Going into the 2012 NFL Draft, Isaiah Pead was considered a late riser and hot sleeper among the running back prospects. Now that he has joined the St. Louis Rams as a second-round pick, No. 50 overall, Pead is being tabbed for a featured role in the near future.
The Rams are looking at Pead as more than just a complement to 6-2, 240-pound Steven Jackson, ESPN reports. Given Jackson turns 29 in July and carried a big load over his eight seasons and two-time All-Pro career, Rams officials were expected to bring fresh legs.
Rams coach Jeff Fisher has been versatile in his philosophy about what kind of back can thrive in getting 20-25 touches for his offense. With the Tennessee Titans, Fisher got to Super Bowl XXXIV against the Rams with 6-3, 240-pound Eddie George. Then Fisher got a 2,006-yard rushing season from 5-11, 191-pound speedster Chris Johnson in 2009.
This is certainly interesting from a dynasty standpoint, but it's too soon to write Jackson off. While he does have a lot of wear on his tires, his YPC in 2011 (4.4) was slightly above his career average and he certainly still looks the part of an every-down back. The team will likely work Pead into the mix, but Jackson is a decent bet to repeat the 302 touches he had last season, especially if the Rams' offense improves as expected.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012, 6:54pm
Chris Johnson’s annual absence from the Titans’ offseason program has been a storyline ever since he entered the league, but it won’t be an issue this year.
As part of the $53.5 million extension he signed last September, Johnson is required to participate in the majority of the team’s offseason workouts or he will be docked $250,000. The contract allows him six absences.
It wasn't quite as overwrought as LeBron James' decision on which team to abandon Cleveland for, but Jeff Fisher has finally chosen a coaching destination. He will take his talents to the St. Louis Rams.
Last week, Fisher interviewed with both the Rams and the Miami Dolphins, visiting both teams' facilities. Rumors of where he would land started to leak on Monday, but there was no definitive news until ESPN reported today that he is headed to St. Louis.
Friday, January 13, 2012, 12:36pm
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.
Friday, December 30, 2011, 8:09pm
Tuesday, December 27, 2011, 7:52pm
In the four-year extension he signed in April there was a clause that stated his 2012 salary would decrease from $8 million to $7.7 million if he failed to reach 1,000 yards in 2011.
He needs 14 yards on Sunday to reach 1,000 for the season and keep the $300,000.
Monday, December 26, 2011, 8:08pm
Chris Johnson could miss practice time this week with sore ankle but expected to be a go Sunday.
Friday, December 23, 2011, 6:27pm
Titans RB Chris Johnson (ankle, questionable) took limited practice reps again Friday and is questionable for Week 16. He's expected to play, though he'll be at less than 100%. The last time CJ1K faced the Jaguars (win Week 1), he gained 49 total yards and failed to find the endzone.
Thursday, December 22, 2011, 6:47pm
Titans RB Chris Johnson (ankle) returned to limited practice reps Thursday after missing Wednesday practice. The Titans are expecting that Johnson won't be himself this week and Jamie Harper is expected to see a bigger role than usual against the Jaguars. Johnson reportedly looked fine running, but cutting will be an issue.
Johnson took part in individual drills prior to practice, and Coach Mike Munchak is still expecting the fourth-year pro to play Saturday against the Jaguars at LP Field.
“We’re assuming he is,” Munchak said. “Today was encouraging because even he thought he would be sorer than he was. Again, it’s the old ‘he’s progressing like you’d hoped he would.’ We’ll see how he is (Thursday) when he starts doing some cutting. If he doesn’t have any soreness from that, then we should be in good shape.”
Munchak acknowledged that Johnson is likely to be at less than 100 percent on Saturday, meaning rookie Jamie Harper should see more action.
“We’re assuming Harper will get more carries than he normally would — just because we’re assuming C.J. will be somewhat not himself,” Munchak said. “If for some reason C.J. is not even able to suit up … I would think we’d want Harper to get the majority of the carries depending on how much we run the ball.”
On this news, Johnson is looking like a fringe RB2 this week. The matchup is solid, but expectations need to be low due to his bad ankle and reduced workload.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011, 7:51pm
Tuesday, December 20, 2011, 8:04pm
Running back Chris Johnson was held out of practice on Tuesday and said his right ankle remains sore.
Johnson suffered a sprained ankle in the latter stages of Sunday’s game, but said he expects to play on Saturday against the Jaguars.
“I think I should be good enough to go,’’ he said. “It’s pretty sore – I haven’t ran on it and … yesterday I was limping pretty bad. But I am doing much better.”
“Any running who runs for over 1,000 yards, it puts you up there in a group with elite running backs,’’ he said. “Even though I am not having the best of years to go over 1,000 yards, that’s something a lot of people thought probably wouldn’t happen this year.”
Chris Johnson will be questionable this week with ankle.
An update since the last post, Javon Ringer has been placed on IR, ending his season. So if Johnson can't go, Jamie Harper could see a heavy workload and Herb Donaldson could also be in the mix. Either way, it's a messy fantasy situation with the Titans offensive line failing to open up holes all season long.
Friday, December 16, 2011, 7:08pm