The Tennessee Titans told Chris Johnson they are releasing him Friday after six seasons to avoid paying $8 million the running back is due in 2014, along with the final three seasons left on the $53.5 million contract he signed in September 2011.
His release comes before the Titans start their offseason program Monday with new coach Ken Whisenhunt.
Johnson repeatedly said he wouldn’t take a pay cut. The Titans didn’t face a deadline that would have guaranteed the $8 million Johnson was due in 2014 until the first week of the regular season, but Johnson planned to report for the start of the offseason program Monday.
“I’d like to thank all of my teammates, the fans, the staff and the coaches who have supported me throughout my journey with the Titans,” Johnson said in a statement. “I have grown so much as an individual and as teammate over the past few years, and I am excited about the opportunity to bring my experience and talents to a new organization.”
He is the sixth player to rush for 1,000 yards in each of his first six seasons.
But Johnson has fallen far short of the 2,006-yard season he posted in 2009, when he became the sixth man to rush for at least 2,000 yards. He earned the nickname CJ2K for such exploits, but last season he went until the final game to top 1,000 and finished with 1,077 yards – the second-lowest total of his career. He also had a career-low 3.9-yard average.
He was at his best catching 42 passes for 345 yards with four TDs, including a long of 66 yards.
Around the league
Veteran cornerback Champ Bailey agreed to a two-year contract with the New Orleans Saints. … The New York Giants agreed to a one-year contract with former Seahawks tight end Kellen Davis. … Receiver Mike Williams was acquired by the Buffalo Bills from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a sixth-round draft pick. … A person with knowledge of the deal tells The Associated Press that coach John Fox has agreed to a new three-year contract with the Denver Broncos that runs through 2016.
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