Like every other piece of the Jeff Fisher era in Tennessee, the Titans seem to be moving on and are “cleaning house”. One piece that they most likely will be moving on from is running back Chris Johnson, also known as CJ2K, who is set to hit the free agent market.
In his time in St. Louis, head coach Jeff Fisher has re-united with some of his former players from Tennessee. Cornerback Cortland Finnegan and Tight End Jared Cook instantly come to mind of guys who left the Titans and joined Fisher and the Rams.
The most recent guy who could join that list is Johnson, a first round pick of Fisher’s in Tennessee. Johnson is notably one of the few running backs to ever rush for over 2,000 yards, hence the name CJ2K, and he did so under Fisher in only his second year in the league.
The Rams have stated that they like running back Zac Stacy and he is the guy that is going to carry the load, but the Rams could use a guy to split time with Stacy. Johnson is a veteran guy who has proven himself in this league and would add a speedy back to the Rams backfield.
Other Rams speedy back include Daryl Richardson who showed promise his rookie year, but struggled when he got his chance last season, and second round pick Isaiah Pead who is finally working is way on special teams.
Although Johnson has “fallen off the map” since his 2,000 yard season, he has remained consistent throughout his career having at least a respectable 1,000 yards rushing in each of his six seasons in the NFL, something that isn’t very easy to do.
Fisher is loyal to his guys, for better or worse at times, and it shouldn’t be surprising if the Rams at least make an effort at Johnson in free agency. The Rams would certainly like to try to avoid wearing Stacy down early in his career, and adding a guy like Johnson would take some of the load off of the sixth round pick out of Vanderbilt.
Although Johnson has incredible big play ability, he does have a few red flags that stick out. The first being that he wants to be payed like a top running back when the fact of the matter is, he is not. He is a rotational guy in a two-back system at best.
The second big red flag is similar to the first in which Johnson wants to be a starting running back and the featured guy. The Titans ran into this problem with Johnson when they signed Shonn Greene. Johnson wants to be the only guy and if he gets that opportunity he will take it.
The final big red flag of Johnson is that he is 28 years old. Even though that isn’t very old, for a running back it is, especially for a running back like Johnson, whose numbers have been going down. A lot of running backs struggle past 30, and Johnson is quickly reaching that number.
Every player has red flags, but the point is, Johnson can still play, and he may just need a fresh start. Given that he has had success under Fisher, the Rams would make a lot of sense for Johnson, he would just have to agree to wear a different number than 28.
If the Rams could get Johnson for the right price, and not overpay him like they did Cortland Finnegan, then it would definitely be worth it. Johnson would add a lot to the Rams running game.
The Rams are could use a speedy running back to take some of the load off of Stacy. Although they are working with cap space that is very limited, adding a unique offensive weapon like CJ2K, just might be worth the price.