The contract waters for RB Chris Johnson and the Tennessee Titans keeps getting more and more muddled as the days go by. First CJ lost a year toward free agency and then franchise players like Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona and Joe Thomas in Cleveland got huge extensions. So I began thinking what I would do if I were called upon to be an arbitrator in this matter. The Titans think they have leverage in that CJ still has two years left on his current contract and since he didn't report to camp by the mandated time, he has lost a year of accrual toward free agency - meaning he wouldn't become an unrestricted free agent after those two years. CJ thinks he has leverage in that he is one of the most explosive playmakers in the NFL and he is vastly underpaid.
So CJ thinks he needs to be paid like he is on the open market, but he is not - his rights belong to the Tennessee Titans for 2+ years. The Titans on the other hand feel like they should get a discounted rate for doing the contract 2+ years early. So the important thing for now is to get CJ in to camp. I have three contract offers that will get CJ in to camp, pay him more money, give him some up front money now, and allow him to hit the open market in two years. My opinion is that neither side is going to soften their stance and one of these contracts may be the only option for both parties this year.
Contract offer #1
2 year contract worth 6 million dollars - 4 million signing bonus and 1 million in 2011 and 1 million in 2012
CJ agrees to report to camp next year and the Titans agree to not put the franchise tag on him or seek the third year of free agency. This gets CJ to camp and allows him to hit the open market in 2 years. It also allows the Titans two years to try to get a deal done with CJ.
Contract offer #2
2 year contract worth 10 million dollars - 8 million signing bonus and 1 million in 2011 and 1 million in 2012
CJ agrees to report to camp next year and the Titans do not seek the third year of free agency but are given Right of First Refusal on any contract CJ gets offered in free agency after 2012. This means when CJ agrees to a deal with another team, the Titans have the option of matching it and keeping CJ. This gives CJ quite a bit of money now and also allows him to seek his "playmaker deal" after 2012. The Titans ultimately will have the option of keeping CJ when all is said and done.
Contract offer #3
2 year contract worth 14 million dollars - 12 million signing bonus and 1 million in 2011 and 1 million in 2012
CJ agrees to report to camp next year and the Titans do not seek the third year of free agency. The Titans can, however, slap the franchise tag on CJ and start this whole circus ride over again in two years. This gives CJ a lot of money right now and allows CJ and the Titans two years to get a real deal done.
What do you think?