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Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Jets hope to lock up Chris Johnson

By Rich Cimini


It comes as no surprise that free-agent running back Chris Johnson is visiting Tuesday with the New York Jets. They never lost interest in him even though his first week on the open market was eerily quiet. Despite a down season in 2013, the Jets still believe he's a quality back, capable of recapturing some of his past form with better offensive line play than he had with the Tennessee Titans.

The timing of the visit (and possible signing) makes sense. The Jets open their offseason program Monday, and Rex Ryan prefers to have his veteran players under the same roof for as much of the program as possible. Johnson probably would be limited because he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in January, but his presence would be good for team chemistry and would allow him to start learning the offense. Teams also like to tie up loose ends in free agency before shifting into total draft mode next week. A similar situation unfolded last year. After maintaining contact for a few weeks, the Jets signed free-agent safety Dawan Landry a week before the offseason program.

Don't think money has nothing to do with this. Johnson has generated little interest as a free agent, causing his value to drop. No other team has been identified as having serious interest. No doubt that factored into general manager John Idzik's thinking from the outset. The Jets should be able to lock up Johnson with a team-friendly deal, and they hope to get it done quickly.