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Should Chris Johnson be highest-paid running back in NFL history?

August 12, 2011 |  2:25 pm

Johnson_640 Writers from around the Tribune Co. discuss the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses and weigh in with a comment of your own.

Dom Amore, Hartford Courant

Should Chris Johnson be the highest-paid running back ever? Next question: Could he be considered the best in the NFL right now? Sounds like yes to each question.

Salaries don’t go down. They might level off for a time, but the upward spiral is inevitable. Being the “highest paid ever” may carry the implication that that athlete is the greatest of all time in their sport, but that is irrelevant. In a game that now generates $9 billion in revenue, the best get paid in record fashion.

Running backs in the NFL average about 2½ seasons, and any tackle could be, if not the last, one that diminishes the runner for good. Even the great ones, once they lose a step, disappear quickly. Right now, it’s Chris Johnson’s time. His historic 2009 season, in which he rushed for more than 2,000 yards and gained a record-breaking 2,500 from scrimmage, stakes this claim. Last season, he dropped — how could he not? — but still managed 1,300 yards.

The Titans are wise to make him feel wanted, appreciated, and make him the highest-paid runner ever. Now, it’s up to Johnson to accept and get back to work.

Dan Pompei, Chicago Tribune

Chris Johnson’s value to the Titans goes beyond making long runs and putting points on the board. He helps keep the pressure off the quarterback by keeping the Titans out of obvious passing situations, no small accomplishment when a team is trying to develop a rookie as the Titans are. He also provides the quarterback with a reliable receiving outlet, which some backs fail to do. He keeps the Titans' defense fresh by keeping them off the field. 

And don’t forget this: Johnson puts fannies in the seats. He sells jerseys, too. Johnson is the Titans’ meal ticket in many ways. He is the most valuable asset the team has, and the Titans are going nowhere without him. For all of those reasons, the Titans have to pony up and make him the NFL’s highest-paid running back.


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Photo: Chris Johnson. Credit: Jim Brown / US Presswire