Source: Chris Johnson gets $53M
"He'll sign tomorrow and take his physical and be ready to start practicing," Titans general manager Mike Reinfeldt said Thursday night before Tennessee played New Orleans in a final preseason game. "It was a tough negotiation, but both sides gave some and we got it done."
A league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that the extension is worth $53 million with $30 million guaranteed. The extension will be tacked on to the two years he had remaining on his previous contract, putting him under the Titans' control through the 2016 season.
Johnson will receive $31 million over the first three years of the extension. Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams, who signed a five-year, $43 million contract earlier this offseason, will get $30 million over the first three seasons of his deal.
Johnson was en route to Tennessee Friday to sign the deal, and Mike Munchak expects the star running back to be busy learning the changes to the Titans' offense.
Munchak, the new head coach, said Johnson likely will be spending some extra time with running backs coach Jim Skipper over the next few days. Johnson also has lots of new people to introduce himself to with offensive coordinator Chris Palmer and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.
Munchak said Friday that Johnson has plenty of time to get ready for the opener at Jacksonville on Sept. 11.
Talks between the sides intensified on Wednesday night with both recognizing that if Johnson was going to play in Tennessee's regular-season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the deal had to get done in the next few days.
With Munchak, having Johnson on the team for the entire season was crucial for Tennessee coming off a 6-10 season.
"We have nine days," Reinfeldt said. "The main thing is for him to get comfortable with the system."
Tennessee wanted Johnson to at least have a few days of practice with Hasselbeck in a revised offense with Palmer. The only other Titans running back with any NFL carries is Javon Ringer with 59 in his career, and he has been hurt most of the preseason. Rookie Jamie Harper from Clemson started the past two preseason games for Tennessee.
Fullback Ahmard Hall said Tuesday that Johnson would have some work once he does arrive to learn the changes in Palmer's offense, especially with terminology.
"You're going to have to think," Hall said. "You're not going to just be able to roll in and hit the ground running as if coach (Mike) Heimerdinger were still here. Coach Palmer has put in a lot of good things, bu the language is different. He's definitely going to have to think. The sooner he gets in the better."
Johnson has led the NFL in yards rushing the past three seasons and refused to report to the camp without a new deal. The 24th pick overall in the 2008 draft out of East Carolina, Johnson became only the sixth man in NFL history to run for 2,000 yards in 2009 when he ran for 2,006 yards.
The Titans revised his contract a year ago, moving some money up in the deal, but he still was set to earn only $1.065 million for this season.
This deal will be noticed by running backs like Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, who is in the final year of his original contract. Carolina gave Williams $21 million guaranteed in his new deal a few weeks ago. Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, who is going into his fourth season, tweeted, "Congrads to (at)ChrisJohnson28 on the new deal well deserved...."
Johnson did not immediately respond to a message left by The Associated Press. But Titans cornerback Ryan Mouton were among those tweeting congratulations to Johnson.
On Path To Canton?
Only two running backs -- both Pro Football Hall of Famers -- rushed for more yards than Chris Johnson did in his first three seasons for the Titans.
Most rushing yards, first three seasons*
|1983-85, Eric Dickerson||5,147|
|1978-80, Earl Campbell||5,081|
|2008-10, Chris Johnson||4,598|
|2001-03, LaDainian Tomlinson||4,564|
— from Elias Sports Bureau
Johnson tweeted Wednesday night that he had dinner in Orlando with his agent Joel Segal "to discuss business."
Earlier Wednesday, he created somewhat of a firestorm on Twitter after he tweeted thanks to people praying for him through his "situation."
After getting backlash from some of his followers, he told "fake Titan fans" to shut up. Some fans were calling him greedy and saying his demands are too high.
Johnson went on to write, "I don't have a regular job so don't compare me to you and I can care less if uthink I'm greedy."
He later tried to clarify his tweet about fake fans.
"My titan fans taking it all wrong I'm talking to the ones writing me racist Comments. I'm not call the Titan fans fake at all. #LUV," he wrote.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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