Not a matter of 'if,' but 'when' CJ2K will be released
As one of the highest paid running backs in the league, the Titans are beginning to grow frustrated with Johnson's perennially disappointing performances, and reports suggest that it is simply a matter of time before they kick him to the curb. According to Jim Wyatt of the Nashville Tennessean, "it's not a matter of if he's released, but when."
If Johnson were willing to take a pay cut, the Titans could probably find a way to keep him around. After all, Johnson is not a bad running back, he's just not worth the money that he is getting, which is a whopping $8 million in 2014. That is way too much for a player who barely topped the thousand-yard mark and averaged 3.9 yards per carry last season. Unfortunately, if you know anything about Johnson, his ego seems far too high to sign off on a reduced salary.
In addition, Johnson wants to play for a different team if the Titans are not willing give him the ball more. Having signed Shonn Greene to a three-year, $10 million deal last offseason, the Titans were probably thinking of giving Johnson the ball less next season, not more.
What the Titans will probably do is release Johnson outright, then find a similar, cheaper player to complement Greene as a speedy, passing-down back. The top player on the market who fits that mold would probably be Darren McFadden, who is not expected to re-sign with the Oakland Raiders. Cheaper options could include Felix Jones or LaRod Stephens-Howling.
As for Johnson, there is a good chance that we see him waiting around for a while before he signs with a new team, because he is not going to get the offers that he is hoping for. Johnson still sees himself as one of the league's premier backs, but 3.9 yards per carry simply does not get you a big contract these days.
If Johnson wants, he could sign a one-year deal with a team that he feels is a great fit to boost his stock for next offseason. Considering Johnson's spotless injury history (he has not missed a game since 2008), it is unlikely that he would hurt his stock on a one-year deal, assuming he kept his head on straight. It is hard to see Johnson settling for a one-year deal, but if he is disappointed enough in the monetary value of the offers he receives, I wouldn't consider it out of the question.
Johnson once looked poised to be one of the all-time greats at the running back position, making the Pro Bowl in each of his first three NFL seasons and breaking some records along the way. After three straight seasons without a Pro Bowl appearance, however, Johnson's career is taking an unforeseen turn, as it looks very much like he is going to be released.