NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — This much is certain: Chris Johnson spent at least Tuesday night in the Tri-State Area.
But he apparently did not meet with the Jets, the Daily News reported. The former 2,000-yard running back tweeted while en route that his travels were unrelated to free agency, but it’s hard to imagine the Jets not at least reaching out to him at some point if they are truly that interested.
And it’s believed they most certainly are.
The Jets have repeatedly been mentioned as a leading landing spot for Johnson, who was officially released by the Tennessee Titans on Monday. The 28-year-old back has rushed f0r at least 1,000 yards in all six of his professional seasons, joining Barry Sanders, Curtis Martin, LaDainian Tomlinson, Eric Dickerson and Corey Dillon as the only players to do so.
The former first-round pick out of East Carolina had a season for the ages back in 2009, rushing for 2,006 yards, and has nearly 8,000 rushing yards for his career, to go along with 272 receptions and 58 total touchdowns.
Johnson would be a definite upgrade in the Jets’ backfield, with the Jets reportedly thinking a platoon of him and Chris Ivory being a powerful one-two combination.
Some have intimated that Johnson is on the decline, specifically after he rushed for a career low 3.9 yards per carry in 2013. However, the Jets have reportedly said they have no concerns about his abilities or work ethic. It’s believed if the Jets and Johnson are to get a deal done it will all boil down to money.
The market seems to suggest Johnson, who was scheduled to make around $8 million in 2014 before he was released, wouldn’t realistically be able to command more than $4 million or so per season, but the key could end up being length of term and guaranteed money. Johnson is nearing that age where running backs tend to fall off and Jets general manager John Idzik has already proven to be quite stingy when it comes to paying older players — and that’s regardless of the fact that his team is currently around $26 million under the salary cap.
If Johnson does indeed at some point sneak off to Florham Park, and ends up liking what he sees, getting a deal done will almost certainly have to be on the Jets’ terms. Idzik and head coach Rex Ryan weren’t expected to be at the team’s facility on Wednesday because they were attending LSU’s pro day.
Other teams reportedly interested in Johnson include Atlanta, Dallas and Buffalo.
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