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Running back Chris Johnson was released by the Tennessee Titans on Friday, the team announced.
"As an organization, we want to thank Chris for his contributions to the Titans," general manager Ruston Webster said in a release. "Chris produced many memorable moments, broke franchise records and was durable over his six-year career with our team. We have had an open dialogue with Chris' agent, Joel Segal, over the last few weeks, and we appreciate the patience and professionalism they have shown throughout this process.
"We made an effort to trade Chris but were unable to do so. We wish Chris the best and thank him for the six seasons he spent with us."
The lightning-fast Johnson was one of the league's most dynamic and explosive playmakers early in his career. He ran for 2,006 yards in 2009 and is one of only six players to run for at least 1,000 yards in his first six seasons, along with Barry Sanders, Curtis Martin, LaDainian Tomlinson, Eric Dickerson and Corey Dillon.
But Johnson averaged a career-worst 3.9 yards a carry and didn't have a run longer than 30 yards in 2013. He was scheduled to make $8 million in 2014.
The Titans found the combination of sinking production and high cost to be unpalatable and are expected to draft a running back to work with Shonn Greene and free-agent addition Dexter McCluster out of the backfield.
"There's some sense of relief that we're done with it, we're moving forward, and I'm sure it's like that for CJ," Webster said on The Midday 180 in Nashville.
Four teams that discussed a potential trade for Johnson, but ultimately declined doing it, were the Jets, Bills, Dolphins and Falcons, sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
Johnson was the 24th selection in the 2008 draft out of East Carolina.
After three seasons, when he ranked as one of the league's best values, he sold himself as a "playmaker" who shouldn't be constrained by the values placed on running backs, and after a training camp holdout in 2011, he got a four-year, $54 million contract. He's made $31 million over the past three years.
Johnson thanked the Titans and their fans on Twitter on Friday:
"I'd like to thank all of my teammates, the fans, the staff and the coaches who have supported me ... http://t.co/Sl78B1yWIe- Chris Johnson (@ChrisJohnson28) April 4, 2014
The Titans save $4 million with the move and will carry $4 million in dead money.
Information from ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky was used in this report.