When the Tennessee Titans said that they would happily make Chris Johnson the highest-paid running back in the league, I figured it was only a matter of time until a deal got done.
He wanted money, they wanted to give him money, and as soon as they worked out the silly little issue of Johnson reporting to camp first, or the Titans giving him a contract first, it'd get done.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, "highest-paid running back in the league" money might not be enough to get a deal signed. Johnson might be thinking more along the lines of "highest-paid person in the league."
While the Titans publicly stated they are willing to make Johnson the highest-paid running back in the NFL, those close to Johnson believe he should be paid as one of the top playmakers in the league -- not just for running backs, sources familiar with the situation told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
Oh boy. Pretty much everyone agrees that the Titans need to step up and pay Johnson, but if he's asking for quarterback money, that complicates things.
As an example, DeAngelo Williams was the best running back available on this year's free agent market. He got a five-year deal worth $43 million, with $21 million of that guaranteed.
Peyton Manning, on the other hand, got a five-year deal worth $90 million, and if he wants it, he'll see every penny of that.
Now, I doubt that Johnson is expecting Peyton Manning money (but who knows, really), but that illustrates the difference we're talking about here. I'd have no problem making Johnson the best-paid RB in the league, but if the decision were up to me, and a running back wanted QB money? No chance.
Running backs just don't last long enough, and they're too easily replaceable. Not that you can just go out and replace a superstar like Chris Johnson, but you can go cheap and get way closer to elite production at running back than you can if you go cheap at quarterback. It just wouldn't make sense to tie up that kind of cap space with a running back.
Good news for fans of non-Titans AFC South teams. This could drag on for a while.