Wasn't there talk at one point that Marshall Faulk may be interested in a front office position? These kinds of comments make him sound more like someone wanting to be an agent.
Tennessee Titans' Chris Johnson advised to hold out
Marshall Faulk says running back has the leverage now but might not later
By Jim Wyatt
May 18, 2010
Marshall Faulk could only watch as Chris Johnson broke one of his records last season.
Now the three-time All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowler has some advice for the Titans running back, who has been skipping the team's voluntary workouts and practices in hopes of getting a new contract:
Hold out as long as possible for as much money as you can get.
"Without a doubt, if more money is what he wants, he has to hold out," Faulk said. "You have to know who you are dealing with. The Titans aren't known for caving in or paying, it doesn't matter who you are. In my opinion, there is no way he can come in and play under the current contract.''
Johnson is expected to be absent again today when the Titans hold their fifth practice of the offseason. After rushing for 2,006 yards last season — breaking Faulk's NFL record for single-season yards from scrimmage in the process — Johnson said he wanted to be the highest-paid offensive player in the NFL.
His current contract falls well short of that plateau. Johnson is scheduled to make $550,000 this season, the third year of a five-year, $12 million deal (which included $7 million guaranteed) he signed in 2008.
Faulk, who was traded from the Colts to the Rams in 1999 in part because of concerns he might hold out for a new contract, said Johnson has the leverage now but might not later.
"Chris has outplayed his rookie deal. He has beyond exceeded the expectation where he was drafted,'' said Faulk, a 13-year pro now with NFL Network. "When you are drafted you are paid as to where you were drafted, not to how you play. And then after you play and prove your worth you are then paid as to how you play. He has exceeded the money he is making, the Titans know it and everyone in the league knows it."
So far the Titans have cited the "30 percent rule," a byproduct of the league's current labor issues. The rule stipulates a 30 percent maximum raise of the previous year's base salary. Because the base salary would be restricted, the Titans would probably have to pay Johnson guaranteed signing bonus money in the $40 million to $50 million range as part of a market-rate extension.
"They don't know what to do — they don't want to guarantee all the money because he is a small guy and could get hurt and he could derail the organization," Faulk said. "But the Titans can't look at this like, 'It is a situation that is going to resolve itself because he is under contract.' They are already known as an organization that doesn't pay its players, and it is not just coming out of my mouth.''
Last week Coach Jeff Fisher didn't seem concerned about Johnson's absence, saying he suspects the reigning NFL Offensive Player of the Year is taking advice from his agent.
"These things work themselves out,'' Fisher said. "I'm sure that he is working. I'm sure he is not planning on sitting out the season. I'm sure he is planning on coming in here very soon.''
Former Titan Eddie George, the franchise's career rushing leader, said he wishes Johnson the best in his quest for a new contract while pointing out the league's labor impasse and potential lockout will make for tricky negotiations.
"The longevity of a running back in this league is so short that you have to take advantage of those opportunities," George said. "My advice to him is if you can get it by playing hardball great. There is no question he is the best player on that team and he deserved to get paid more.''
Without Johnson last season, Faulk said, the Titans "probably would've had the first pick of the NFL Draft." Without Johnson this season, he said, the Titans are doomed.
“With the league being the way it is and how people look at the running back position, they think we’re a dime a dozen and when you have a special one you ride him,’’ Faulk said. “Coach Fisher, that is what he has done and that is what teams do — they ride running backs and when they are done they get some more.
“So if you are Chris Johnson, everybody is saying, ‘Wait and play it out and then you’ll get a contract.’ But 28, 29 and 30 (years old), a running back is done. So if he doesn’t get a contract now and waits, then that’s going to be it.
“Chris has the better argument. And if they decided to pay him after next year and he doesn’t have a year like he did last year, well, they are going to use next year’s numbers. They aren’t going to look back and say, ‘Well, he did rush for 2,000 the year before last.’ ’’