Johnson says Titans are ‘wasting’ his prime

Updated: January 8, 2014, 10:14 AM ET


By
Paul Kuharsky | ESPN.com


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson says he’ll be worth his scheduled $8 million salary in 2014 if the team just uses him properly.

“No disrespect, I love Tennessee and would love to be in Tennessee,” Johnson told The Tennessean. “But I feel like I am wasting the prime years of my career if I am not used right. You feel me? It is crazy to look at backs around the league and see the opportunities they have.”

Johnson, who had 358 carries when he rushed for a franchise-record 2,006 yards in 2009, ran just 279 times for 1,077 yards — the second-lowest total of his six-year career — this season.

The 279 carries marked Johnson’s highest single-season total in his three seasons under coach Mike Munchak, who was fired Saturday. Johnson had more than 300 carries in each of the previous two seasons before Munchak was hired.

“I am not a coach, and I am not a GM,” Johnson told The Tennessean. “But if I am paying a player to make him the top-paid guy on the team, there is no way in critical situations that he is going to be on the sideline. Around the goal line, I’d come out.”

Last spring, the Titans signed a bigger veteran back, Shonn Greene, to take on part of Johnson’s workload.

Johnson told the Tennessean that he has not requested a trade, although the three-time Pro Bowler acknowledged he wouldn’t mind going to a team that would give him a larger offensive role.

“I feel like if they are not going to use me the way I am supposed to be used and let me be the horse, then I would rather them let me move on,” the 28-year-old Johnson told the paper. “Their money would be wasted on me. I feel like if they are not going to use me right, let somebody get me that’s going to use me the right way.”

The Titans’ plan this season was for Greene to get the bulk of the short-yardage and goal-line carries. But Greene suffered an injury in the season opener, missed six games and wasn’t himself after he returned from knee surgery.

“I want to help the team win,” Johnson told the paper. “People say, ‘He is not worth the $10 million, he is not worth the $8 million.’ I feel like if you give me $8 million, let me earn it.

“At crucial times of the game, I shouldn’t be on the sideline watching.”

  • Covered AFC South for five years for ESPN.com
  • Covered Oilers/Titans for The Tennessean
  • New Jersey native and Columbia graduate lives in Nashville with his wife and son

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