Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Updated: June 17, 9:10 AM ET
Johnson willing to hold out
ESPN.com news services
FRANKLIN, Tenn. -- Chris Johnson has returned to Tennessee for football, just not with the Titans. The running back coming off a historic season still wants a pay raise and isn't happy with his contract status.
"I can't play for $550,000," Johnson told the (Nashville) Tennessean. "The money that I am playing for, I am getting paid less than the starting 11 [on offense] and I'm one of the lowest paid starting running backs in the league."
The Associated Press' 2009 NFL Offensive Player of the Year held his second annual camp for children Wednesday and refused to comment when asked about a contract paying him $550,000 for 2010. Johnson lives in Orlando, and the camp is his first visit to Tennessee since the season ended with him becoming only the sixth person in NFL history to run for at least 2,000 yards.
Johnson told the Tennessean he will hold out of training camp, which begins July 31.
The two-time Pro Bowler said early this offseason he wants to be the highest-paid offensive player in the NFL, a bold goal for a running back. The Titans maintain Johnson remains under contract for three more seasons thanks to the five-year, $12 million deal he signed after being drafted 24th overall out of East Carolina.
Johnson's agent, Joel Segal, declined to comment at Johnson's camp. Segal updated Johnson Tuesday in a phone call on the apparent lack of progress in talks with the Titans, according to the running back's tweets.
"I'm feeling lk [at]Revis24 rt now at least dey offering him something dey not offering me nothing," Johnson tweeted, mentioning Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis.
Johnson wasn't done tweeting.
"How do u wnt player 2 honor their contract but the team dont have 2 honor it. If u dont wnt 2 pay a player early dont cut a player early.
And he went on.
"Its like how u expect ur players to give they all and put their bodies on the line when you not willing to give them what they deserve," Johnson finished up.
Titans general manager Mike Reinfeldt was out of town Wednesday and not immediately available for comment. Coach Jeff Fisher had been invited by Johnson to make an appearance at his camp.
"And my invitation is still open to him for our camp," Fisher said Tuesday.
The Titans wrap up their offseason program June 25 with four on-field practices remaining. They report for training camp July 30 with the first practice July 31. Will Johnson report on time or continue his holdout?
"I don't know," Johnson said.
Johnson's popularity was obvious with approximately 500 children taking part in his second annual camp Wednesday at the private Battle Ground Academy just south of Nashville. He also had help from sponsors and ProCamps, which plans and runs camps for NFL players like Adrian Peterson, Philip Rivers, Reggie Bush and Chad Ochocinco.
More than 110 of the campers took part with help from the YMCA, and Johnson had about 30 children in the camp whose homes were damaged in the May 1-2 floods that hit nearly two-thirds of Tennessee. Johnson, with sponsors Nike and Powerade, made an undisclosed donation Tuesday to the American Red Cross for flood relief.
"I actually didn't see the damage that it did," Johnson said. "I heard a lot about it, and a place that showed me a lot of love I just wanted to show some love back and give a donation back toward the city."
Fisher runs a voluntary offseason program with no mandatory minicamps. That means Johnson hasn't missed anything that could result in a fine. He didn't take part in the team's offseason program last year but attended most of the Titans' on-field practices.
Johnson planned to return to Florida once the camp concluded to resume his personal training program. He said his workouts include football drills, and he also talks regularly with offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger so he doesn't anticipate his absence hurting him once he rejoins the Titans.
"We got a long camp. We got a whole month of camp before the first game. We got a whole preseason so that should help," Johnson said of learning any tweaks to the offense.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.