Now That Running Back Is A Free Agent, Expect Gang Green To Stay In Pursuit

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Just how much do the Jets want Chris Johnson? Well, at least enough to inquire about a trade.

That’s apparently what they did prior to the veteran running back’s release by the Tennessee Titans on Friday, the Daily News reported.

The three-time Pro Bowler is now a free agent, and the Jets are expected to maintain their interest. The Bills, Dolphins and Falcons also reportedly looked into dealing for the 28-year-old running back, the newspaper reported.

It had been widely speculated that Tennessee would either trade or release Johnson, who was drafted in the first round by the Titans back in 2008 and then rewarded them the following season with 2,006 rushing yards.

For his career, Johnson has 7,965 yards rushing on a 4.6-per-carry average with 50 touchdowns. He’s also been outstanding as a receiver out of the backfield, catching 272 balls for more than 2,000 yards with another eight TDs.

Johnson makes a lot of sense for the Jets, who are roughly $25 million under the salary cap and are stressing competition at every position, including running back, which general manager John Idzik has said he wants to bolster. The Jets have already tried to sign Donald Brown, who went to San Diego, and were said to be in on Maurice Jones-Drew somewhat before he eventually signed with Oakland.

With incumbent Chris Ivory prone to injury, having a durable back like Johnson — who has missed one game in his career and has rushed for at least 1,000 yards in all six of his NFL seasons — would figure to be a very smart play.

However, despite being known as one of the best breakaway backs in the league, Johnson is coming off a down year, averaging just 3.9 yards per carry in 2013.

Idzik has been under constant fire this offseason due to his deliberate approach to free agency. The Jets have been linked to almost every big-name free agent, likely due to their massive amount of cap space, but so far Idzik has stuck to his guns of not spending for spending’s sake.

Whether or not he’s been right in this approach is open to debate, but he did decline to go all-in on players like corners Darrelle Revis, Alterraun Verner and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, running back Jones-Drew and wide receiver DeSean Jackson despite having glaring needs at those positions.

So, in other words, if the Jets are to sign Johnson it will almost certainly have to happen on Idzik’s terms.

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