Will Titans give Johnson a pay hike?

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:47 AM ET

At a time when the state of Tennessee should be more concerned with things like, oh, I donít know, basic shelter and living conditions in the wake of severe flooding earlier this month, the plight of Chris Johnsonís playing status has taken over.

Sure a roof over oneís head is kind of important, but in Tennessee apparently itís secondary to whether the Titans should forgo their policy of making its players actually honour their contracts or cave in to Johnsonís wishes to make him the highest paid offensive player in the game today.

Strictly on numbers, itís hard to argue he doesnít deserve a pay bump, although the highest paid offensive player after one great year might be a tad expectant.

Johnson rushed for an astounding 2006 yards last season and because heís in the midst of a 5-year rookie deal, heís due to make $550,000 this coming season.

Fair? Probably not. But his salary was dictated by his draft position, just like every other rookie drafted into the NFL.

Will he get a raise on his second contract? Assuming he doesnít suffer a crippling injury, definitely.

But thereís the rub. The nature of his position not only means a shorter career but increased risk for serious injury.

ďYou can sit here and say, ĎItís not right, he has a contract,í Ē NFL analyst Cris Collinsworth said recently. ďBut he also realizes, especially as a running back, there are only so many carries you get. If he goes out and blows out his knee next year the Titans arenít going to go back and say, ĎYou know what? Because you were such a good guy, and you went ahead and played, weíre going to give you this $100 million contract.í Thatís not how it works either.

ďI donít blame him. It is just a cold, ruthless business. Ö You have to try and force your hand in negotiations with any leverage you have. It doesnít surprise me and I think the Titans ultimately will pay him.Ē

Agreed. The Titans will eventually pay him but we donít think it happens this year.

Playing an uncapped season with a new collective bargaining agreement unfinished, doesnít play into Johnsonís hands. The Titans cannot reward him with more than a 30% raise on last yearís base salary as per league rules so if theyíre going to get up into that $10-12-million bracket, the bulk of it is going to have to come in guaranteed money.

And thatís unlikely to happen.

Johnson does have some leverage. He could sit out the entire year but at the age of 25 and in the prime of his career, there is risk in that as well. Even if he returns with an improved contract, does he return the same player he was before taking a year off?

Johnson does sound determined to see this through.

This was from Johnsonís twitter account earlier this week. Please note, he is writing in Twitterese ó or is it Twenglish? Anyway, if youíre having trouble, ask your kid to translate.

ďPpl donít understand ths is my life and my body so I know wht I deserve, I wnt a super bowl but when u donít wnt 2 do wht it takes 2 get 1 its not gonna happen.Ē

So far Johnson has missed six voluntary OTAís. Itís not a real problem until Johnson starts missing the mandatory off-season workouts. Then the Titans fans can start worrying for real.

Roider on roider:

Former Broncos linebacker Bill Romanowski is in the news quite a bit lately, and while we agree with the gist of what Romanowski says about Brian Cushing itís a bit much considering who itís coming from. ďNow, as far as Brian Cushing, hereís the deal: The only way you can get that substance that he took, hCG, in your body is to inject it, okay?Ē Romanowski said in a Sirius Radio interview. ďSo letís get that clear. So his sob story on TV was, Iím just going to say, was a total lie, okay? Ö Do you think when he was getting injected in his ass that he didnít know what was going on? Well, bullcrap. Letís get real. Be honest about it, Brian.Ē

At the half:

Brian Urlacher started out taking on Gayle Sayers which was one thing but now heís got Mike Ditka and Dan Hampton coming at him. Urlacher didnít like Sayers publicly pointing out the Bears shortcomings but as far as Ditka and Hampton are concerned he was only stating what was apparent to everyone else ... Filling Kurt Warnerís shoes in Arizona is turning out to be tougher than the Cards expected. Through OTAís the coaching staff is reportedly unimpressed with any of the arms trying to take over the full time gig. That would be Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson. And with Marc Bulger still out there unattached, Leinart and Anderson have to be at least a little concerned.

Fourth and Inches:

Brett Favre sure likes his Southern Miss baseball. Favre paid a visit to the team recently after they lost three games in a row. He was asked about his own future an then basically made this not-so-binding promise. ďIf you guys go back to the College World Series this year ó I will come back and play. How about that? You go back and I go back?Ē Weíre not sure Brett thought this through. The College World Series will be wrapped up by the end of June so if Southern Miss actually gets there, heíll need another excuse not to take part in training camp. If you want another sign No. 4 will be back in purple next season, ESPN reports that Favre had ankle surgery Friday morning.

mike.ganter@sunmedia.ca


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