Titans running back Chris Johnson told the media Thursday that he still believes he's one of the league's best playmakers. He also said he would like to return to the Titans in 2014 -- but he won't accept a pay cut to do it.
Johnson is scheduled to make $8 million next season, after being paid $10 million in 2013. His 2011 contract extension worth $55.26 million runs out with base salaries of $8 million in 2015 and $7 million in 2016.
The three-time Pro Bowler has seen his production decline dramatically from a career-high 2,006 yards in 2009. While he's rushed for 1,200 or more yards in four of the last five seasons, the Titans reportedly might be ready to move on without coach Mike Munchak and Johnson's heavy price tag. This season, he has produced only one 100-yard game but has a shot at a sixth-consecutive 1,000-yard season if he rushes for 50 yards against the Texans on Sunday.
Johnson said he and his agent would discuss any restructured contract proposed by the Titans, but reducing his pay is a deal-killer, per the Tennessean.
Asked if he would take a pay cut, Johnson said: “No way. I don’t feel like it’s all my fault. It’s a team effort.”
“I know I am way better than trying to get 1,000 yards in the last game,” he said. “But looking at the situation, it is a whole bunch of things that go into it. So I don’t get too down on myself. I know when I get the ball and put in the right situation I can still do the same things.”
“There’s not a doubt in my mind I can get back there,” Johnson said. “I have taken so many hits since I first got into the league, but I can still run in the 4.2s, and I don’t know many guys six years in at running back who can say that.”
When asked how he would feel if the only NFL team he's played for opted to get rid of him, Johnson's answer was all-business:
“I don’t think I’ll be out of work long,” he said. “There’s nothing I can do about it. At the end of the day I’ve had a great time here and I appreciate all they have done for me. … I think it would be sad on both parts, but being in this league for so long I understand there is a business side of it.”