Chris Johnson wants to be one of the NFL's highest-paid players. Mike Munchak just wants the running back in training camp.
Johnson has yet to set foot in the Tennessee Titans' training facility this summer as he holds out for a new contract, a reality that Munchak believes is hurting both player and team.
"He doesn't necessarily need book study," the first-year head coach told The Tennessean in Sunday's edition. "He needs reps. He needs to be in the huddle. He needs to get to know the players. The quarterbacks (Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker) are both new. He's never been around them.
"He needs to have offensive linemen in front of him to get his reads. Those are the things he needs. The assignment part I don't think will be as tough for him. It's just getting reps and getting his legs used to those cuts and doing the things he needs to do in the NFL.â
NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora has reported since June that Johnson wants to be paid like an elite playmaker regardless of position (quarterback aside), and that means deals that start around $30 million guaranteed and worth at least $10 million per season.
Right now, Johnson is due more than $1 million this season instead of the $850,000 originally scheduled, thanks to revisions the Titans made to placate the running back last season. He has two years left on his deal, which makes Johnson a huge bargain when compared to other top running backs in the NFL.
The Carolina Panthers recently gave DeAngelo Williams a five-year deal valued at $43 million with $21 million guaranteed. Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings is in the final season of his original five-year contract and will receive more than $10 million this season. Steven Jackson received a six-year deal worth $44 million with more than $20 million in bonuses from the St. Louis Rams in August 2008.
Johnson, the 24th overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, has more rushing yards (4,598) than any other running back in the league over the past three years. In 2009, he became the sixth player in league history to run for at least 2,000 yards. Johnson also is a three-time Pro Bowl pick.
Titans general manager Mike Reinfeldt said last week that he's ready to make Johnson the highest-paid running back in football just as soon as he reports to camp. Johnson expressed surprise with the comments, saying he has yet to receive any offer from the team.