The NFL Trade deadline is just six days away, so let the speculation begin. Should the Tennessee Titans trade RB Chris Johnson at the trade deadline this season? A case could be made for and against such a move. Johnson has struggled at times this season and is due a $10 million dollar salary in 2013 and his trade value might never be higher than right now.
Johnson came out the starting blocks this season a fell flat. He had 21 yards rushing on 19 carries in the first two weeks. He only managed 24 yards in week three against the Detroit Lions, but the run was abandoned in that game which became a shootout. He hit his stride in week four, rushing for 141 yards against a staunch Houston Texans defense. This past Sunday, Johnson posted a 195 yard effort and finally reached the endzone for the first time this season. He also illustrated his dynamic speed, ripping off an 83-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
Earlier this season, skeptics questioned Johnson’s passion for the game. After receiving his mega contract, the East Carolina product struggled. He didn’t show the same bust. He didn’t show the same explosiveness into the hole as in years past. The speed and explosiveness seem to be back and if the Titans want to jettison his huge contract, there is no better time than the present.
There is a chance that Tennessee might be thinking about the possibility of postseason play this year in a watered down AFC. The Titans are 4-3 and have a somewhat favorable schedule going forward. Two games remain with each divisional foe, the Indianapolis Colts and the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Titans might be able to steal a win at Miami which would give them nine wins on the year, a mark which should put them in the mix for a wildcard berth.
The underlying factor also might be, what the Titans plans are for Johnson in the long term. Although the Titans are on the hook for $10 million owed to Johnson next season, they can release him one week after the Super Bowl and save $9 million next season.
If the Titans are planning a release of Johnson, why not entertain offers this year in order to see what the market might bear. I think that a trade for Johnson this season is highly unlikely however.
The team which is dire need of a running back, the Arizona Cardinals, I believe would be unwilling to assume Johnson’s current contract. They have their own contract issues surrounding QB Kevin Kolb for next season and the determination of what his role with the team will be.
Johnson’s trade value has never been higher, but I fully expect him to stand pat with the Titans for the remainder of this season. The offseason, now that’s another story.