Friday, April 4, 2014
Webster: Titans seek all-around back
By Paul Kuharsky
Tennessee Titans general manager Ruston Webster visited with me, Chad Withrow and Jonathan Hutton on The Midday 180 this afternoon to talk about the team's decision to cut ties with Chris Johnson.
"There is some sense of relief that we're through it and we're moving forward and I am sure it's the same for him," he said.
He also said the team never got to the point where it offered a reduced deal.
I think it's safe to presume that between agent Joel Segal's tone in a meeting at the combine and Johnson's comments to Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean about not taking a pay cut, the Titans figured it would have been fruitless. And I'm not sure they wanted him at even a reduced price.
"I don't know that we ever got into solid numbers on those things," Webster said.
On the timing: The Titans had to do their due diligence. Ultimately, they weren't able to make a trade.
"In the end I had told Chris and Joel that once we exhausted those options that we would move on and that's what we did," he said.
On evolving running back economics: "For whatever reason, the way offenses are going right now, the use of the multi-runner backfield as opposed to just having the one guy has changed the economics of things. And I think you can even look to the draft and see what's happened to the running back position in the draft. Very few, if any, will go in the first round this year. So that has changed.
"The league is a little different now in how they value the position. So I think those running backs that signed the big contracts are a little bit the victims of the circumstances at this day and time."
Will the Titans definitely be drafting a running back: "We will definitely look at that position in the draft."
On the interest level: Webster said there were points in time during the process where he thought the team had a chance to get a deal done that then didn't work out.
"There was a market and there were times I felt good about it," he said.
Johnson as a player now: "I think Chris still has a lot left … . I think Chris will have a some good years left in him.
On starting the offseason program Monday without Johnson: "I think it's important for the head coach to start new and be able to move forward. Saying that if we'd have felt that keeping him was the best thing for the franchise, we would have done it. I think it's good for Whiz to be able to start anew with everybody on board and heading the same direction."
On Johnson's health: Webster said Johnson passed his physical Friday and would have been able to participate in organized team activities.
On what they will look to bring in to go with Shonn Greene and Dexter McCluster: "I think moving forward we're going to look for another back with just some all-around ability, with size and speed, some explosiveness and possibly one that could stay on the field all three downs.
On how the draft class rates: "I think it's good. I don't think there is necessarily that one, the Adrian Peterson of the group that's going to go in the top 10. But there's a lot of depth there, from probably the late first to the fifth."
On confidence he can find a back if they wait until the fourth or fifth round: "I am, yep."
Meanwhile, Johnson issued a statement that he also tweeted:
"I'd like to thank all of my teammates, the fans, the staff and the coaches who have supported me throughout my journey with the Titans. I have grown so much as an individual and as teammate over the past few years, and I am excited about the opportunity to bring my experience and talents to a new organization. I'm looking forward to the next chapter and can't wait to contribute to my new team."