Chris Johnson is expected to hit free agency for the first time in his career this offseason. If that happens, he'll do it coming off surgery.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reports that Johnson will have surgery this week to repair a torn meniscus, per a source who has spoken to the running back. Johnson's knee bothered him for most of the season. Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean first reported the news.
Johnson said in December that there's "no way" he'll take a pay cut to stay with the Tennessee Titans, so he probably won't stay with them. Johnson is owed $8 million next season and there's no reason to think the Titans will pay that amount. Johnson was limited to 3.9 yards-per-carry and 1,077 rushing yards in 2013. NFL Media columnist Mike Silver reported in December that Johnson is not in the team's long-term plans.
While the injury gives Johnson a reason for his sluggish play, coming off knee surgery doesn't help his market value. Johnson has been remarkably durable in his career, missing only one game in six years. Johnson has the league's longest active consecutive games started streak for running backs.
Teams simply don't pay for running backs in free agency unless they are truly special. Johnson gets what's blocked; he has struggled to make defenders miss in space for years. He's a fine complementary piece to a running attack, but we don't expect Johnson to carry the load for any team next season.