Opinion: No need to rush signing Chris Johnson

Corey Griffin, TheJetsBlog.com

Chris Johnson remains a free agent, and that’s OK.

That isn’t what some of you want to hear. You’re tired of waiting. I can understand that. Patience is a virtue, particularly in today’s round-the-clock-and-calendar NFL. Not every is willing to wait for Week 1. They want it in April.

But John Idzik rushes for no man, and while we can certainly debate whether that was wise two or three weeks ago, there is no doubt it is the wise course of action now.

Teams are closer to the draft and further from the start of free agency, meaning most have filled already multiple holes on their roster, some with high-salary additions. The Jets are not in this class, but its existence benefits them.

The remainder of the league is looking to the draft, where cheaper, younger and more controllable assets reside by the boatload. One would tend to think, with three fourth-round selections, the Jets would be primed to add a speedy compliment to Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory. You know, one that’s not currently facing felony gun charges and potentially multiple years of prison time.

NFL: New York Jets at Tennessee TitansFor Johnson, this creates a problem. For one, he’s a running back. The position no longer requires a high-salary stud. The age of multiplicity and scheme flexibility demands a team have two, maybe three, options that can be deployed in various situations to create and then exploit weaknesses in the defense. Secondly, the teams looking for veteran help in the backfield have mostly spent their free-agent dollars on Donald Brown, Toby Gerhart, Knowshon Moreno and Ben Tate. And with the draft only three weeks away, the idea of adding a running back entering his age-28 season is not as appealing for most of the rest of the league.

Finally, of the teams reportedly originally interested in Johnson, only the Jets and maybe the Falcons appear immediate fits. The Bills and Cowboys have both dismissed by trusted local reports and even Atlanta’s original interest appears to have been at least exaggerated.

For the Jets, and specifically for Idzik, this creates leverage, a powerful thing in any negotiation, but particularly important when dealing with a veteran seeking a dollar value higher than that of his current on-field contribution.

Johnson is still a useful player and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg could likely find a multitude of ways in which to deploy him. But he is no longer CJ2K. For all of his dependability and still-exciting speed, he remains a player on the downside of his career. There is no reason to overpay Johnson just to get him in the door, especially when there appears to be little-to-no market for him.

There’s also no reason for Johnson to sign anywhere unless that team meets his asking price, which I can guarantee is higher than the one Idzik is willing to offer right now. He and his agent, Joel Segal, are not amateurs at this game. Only three years into a bargain-rate rookie deal, Johnson held out into September while Segal negotiated a massive four-year, $53.975 million extension with the Titans that paid Johnson an average of $13.5 million a year. Johnson and Segal’s best bet is to set their price now and wait until someone is willing to meet it. If not, they can wait until a running back gets hurt (or arrested) during OTAs or minicamps and a team is sudden need of an immediate fix at running back. And if for some reason, every starting running back in the NFL enters training camp healthy, they can still land a palatable one-year deal to get Johnson on a team this year and back in the market from the very beginning next March.

While Johnson’s visit to Florham Park on Tuesday raised the antennae of the green-and-white panic police, there’s no reason to fret if he’s not back in the building when the team begins its offseason program Monday. Johnson is no rookie. He will stay in the best shape possible while the situation plays out and be ready to join a team when the right situation (read: contract) presents itself.

The Jets can let the market play out knowing that Johnson’s camp is aware of their interest, their price point and the team’s ability to offer him a solid number of touches both as a runner and as a receiver. If he signs elsewhere, so be it. Chris Johnson would make the team better, but he’s not the player that can sit out until September anymore.

For now, Johnson remains a free agent. And the Jets are still a team in need of a speedy back that offers game-changing ability. For now.




58 comments
j3tsfan29
j3tsfan29

Tell drewfromjersey this comments for him.

jabronijet
jabronijet

Now that Johnson has left without a deal, I think it is extremely slim that he comes back.

DerekMoreno6
DerekMoreno6

@cgriffin415 I agree. There is no reason for Jets brass to rush into a deal with not many teams rushing to sign Johnson.

Kyle Suta
Kyle Suta

There are so many scenarios for the draft. I hope move up and down in the draft since we have the flexibility to do so. Am I the only one that doesn't care if we don't draft a corner til day 3?

Hazard2012
Hazard2012

We're probably going to have to get used to Idzik's MO...he's tight, rigid, and will not deviate from his approach regardless of need, talent or situation.   He has a pre-conceived idea of what any given player is worth and he will not move from that spot in negotiations.   


This is why we don't have a #2 CB, #1 WR and now CJ...he can't close deals because he's inflexible.   He'd wind-up with the set of steak knives, at best, in Glengarry Glen Ross...or maybe just be out on his ear.  


Losing any number of potential CB's and DJax is far more impactful than not signing CJ...but this pattern doesn't fill me with confidence that this guy can seal long term deals with Mo, BossHogg, etc. etc. when the time comes.   

WW85
WW85

With 12 picks, we can easily draft a RB if CJ signs away.

BDarc23
BDarc23

I don't expect the Jets to sign him but if they do.... I really hope there are no performance clauses because I think that will lead to a lot of complaining about touches and "annonymous" complaints about Geno.

johnnyl65
johnnyl65

So what should be the market on a back who had a 2k season 5 yrs. ago but otherwise is a 1100 per.season avg. that would now be a tandem back where the top of the market is established at 3.5 m. apy?

kniff
kniff

There is a very good chance that Idzik gave CJ the top of the mark of what he is indeed willing to pay, and it makes a lot of business sense to do it this way. It just wasn't maybe the number CJ wanted to hear...


As a fan, this type of scenario is really tough to weather, but Idzik seems to be right on the money with his risk/reward assessments. They were too far apart for yesterday, but might have agreed to come back to the table in the near future.

Wilkershakes
Wilkershakes

To me, this is a really good move if they sign him for a reasonable short term contract.  If they don't sign him, then it's time to move on and there won't be any "what if's".  Meaning good if it happens, and 'ehh' if it doesn't.  

Tequila Joe
Tequila Joe

Anytime a deal "goes well" but no deal was made it is not a good thing...If it went so well he would be a Jet right now. Who are they kidding?

maynard
maynard

15-18 plays a game. MM will use draws, screens, sweeps,I could even see a 2 back set with Ivory and Johnson in the same backfield. This guy had 42 catches last year, Geno needs someone like that. I understand Idziks philosophy, but from an excitement and fan perspective this would be a great shot in the arm.

Also let him wear 1 as his number, don,t remember any Jet ever wearing that before.

spinmaster100
spinmaster100

@Brian_Bassett with Ivory,Powell and a passing game, Johnson is looking at about 10-12 carries a game. $5 million per for that?

Tequila Joe
Tequila Joe

We should be optimistic that the meeting created 'good feelings,' a euphemism for we didn't sign another player we wanted. 

Lord Harry Latts
Lord Harry Latts

Gotta love Idzik.....he lets u know what he's willing to pay....and stands firm. He knows exactly what he's doing.

Monty
Monty

Hes a horrible negotiator. He has yet to sign anyone who was in demand. His prize signing is a guy everyone else thought was the most overrated at his position.

He doesn't value talent and he will be gone by 2016 ..so dont worry about keeping our guys..the new gm will

BDarc23
BDarc23

@WW85- you can draft any position but the chances of getting someone as good as CJ with a late rd pick is pretty slim. You are more likely to get another Bilal Powell.

a57se
a57se

@WW85  

Scroll down and see my response to blackwood1......

a57se
a57se

@jaygo  

This is one area we agree on....Corey's articles.

Wilkershakes
Wilkershakes

@kniff   We can only speculate about this year's risk/reward signings/non-signings, but I agree with all of what you said.  It only makes sense especially at the RB position.  

boomer
boomer

@Tequila Joe  Thats not true.  When I bought my house I loved it after the first visit but I still went out to see other places before I made my offer.  I wanted to make sure I was getting good value since it was such a big investment.


Same with these guys.  CJ is used to being The Man making huge money.  Now he's being introduced to the concept that he is going to be one of the men.  Its a big financial and emotional change and I'm not a bit surprised he would want to make sure this is how the rest of the market values him before he makes his next, and likely last, big move.

WW85
WW85

@maynard  I think RBs have to wear a # in the 20s.

johnnyl65
johnnyl65

@spinmaster100 @Brian_Bassett  MJD has a 3 yr. 2.5 per year contract and you want to double that. Brilliant.

Tequila Joe
Tequila Joe

@Lord Harry Latts  Don't be naive...He has a lot to learn. Unfortunately, he's experiencing his growing pains with us...

jabronijet
jabronijet

@Monty I agree to a certain extent, but I want see what he does this draft. He has clearly made this draft all or nothing proposition. I don't think that was a smart move with so much money available and all needs that the club has. I am more concerned on the way that he can't close on deals and has let much needed talent slip by. I also see other players of being very cautious of coming to the jets because of the way Idzik operates.

That being said, he will have his chance this draft to show he is either a genius or a very subpar GM who is more of an accountant. We shall see.

Hazard2012
Hazard2012

@a57se @WW85  


Concerns about the quality of the Jet personnel evaluation team are well-founded.  Not a great track record...though it's not as bad as many might think.  It's actually comparable to Seattle's, except for fact Seahawks had almost twice the picks the Jets have had during the 5-yr Rex era.  


Sims, Freeman, Seastrunk, among others, almost sure to be there when Jets pick in 4th round...with a little luck Sankey, too.   I'll take any of them there, frankly, whether or not we land CJ.   

WW85
WW85

@a57se  I thought Idzik brought in a lot of new scouts, adding to what the Jets had. IDK, I was opposed to CJ at first, but now I'm in favor

Tequila Joe
Tequila Joe

@boomer @Tequila Joe  I hear you but the business of football is a little different than buying a house. Usually when you leave a house in football unsigned you don't come back to see it again. The CJ situation might be unique and he still may sign but based on precedents it's not likely. 

blackwood1
blackwood1

@johnnyl65 @Brian_Bassett MJD did us a favor taking that deal, it set the bar & sorry for CJ but he would be crazy to say he is better or worth more based on skill set & career performance. He is a specialty back at this point & if cant cope with that oh well the draft has plenty of speed backs. The GM is playing it smart its about the long haul not the moment.

Brendan
Brendan

@Tequila Joe I agree he's learning on the job (as all GM's must do at some point), but wouldn't you rather him air on the side of caution rather than throw caution to the wind while he's going about that process? 

Lord Harry Latts
Lord Harry Latts

@Tequila Joe @Lord Harry Latts  Saving cap space and flexibility for next year...when there is a far superior class of free agents.....just seems smart to me. Especially if you consider that all of the teams that are overspending on marginal talent will have to cut a ton of people....love me some Idzik.

a57se
a57se

@WW85 @a57se 

Nah, basically brought in his buddy Rod graves and one other guy......

boomer
boomer

@Tequila Joe @boomer  Maybe.  But that might not be a bad thing.  If some other team is willing to break the bank with CJ or offer him a role that the Jets won't because of their scheme and needs then thats that.


Most speculation seems to be that this is all about money.  It could also be about the role the Jets offered him.  He may be looking to see if anyone wants to offer him feature back status.


It doesn't hurt that CJ and Vick have the same agent.  I'm sure the lines of communication between CJ's camp and the Jets are open.

a57se
a57se

@Brendan @a57se 

The idea that you shouldn't worry about 2nd or 4th round picks on RB's is contrary to what everyone else is saying about drafting RB's........these are the value rounds where RB's are to be found and we couldn't.

Regardles...hopefully that is better this year and we actually do draft a good one.

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se I'm not dismissing it, I'm saying they used one 2nd day pick and the rest were 4th or later picks, so it wasn't costly considering they had veterans on the roster to balance that out. 


2013 was the year it hurt, because Greene wasn't a starter but was used as one. 

a57se
a57se

@Brendan @a57se 

I must have missed that piece by the Cimidiot!

You are right he did change 4 of the scouts.......hopefully he brought in guys who are better then what we had.

Your dismissal of the Jets past ineptitude in finding quality RB's is not surprising. 

None of the guys we selected were highly rated RB's coming out of college and testify to our inability to judge them properly. One constant over that time is Anthony Lynn, our RB's coach.....I wonder how much input he has in the rankings of prospects?

johnnyl65
johnnyl65

@a57se @johnnyl65  Your comments come from nowhere so I needed this information to put you in proper context. I actually agree with your approach and would say it's a little late to be worrying about the evaluations isn't it?

a57se
a57se

@johnnyl65 @a57se

I have stated elsewhere that I would not sign Johnson.....I don't think that would be consistent with the approach we are taking in trying to build sustainable success. We have 12 draft picks including 3 4th rounders where we should be able to find a quality RB to upgrade our roster. The bigger issue to me is do we have the right evaluation people for RB's under our roof given our recent history.

Wilkershakes
Wilkershakes

@a57se  McKnight was an excellent return guy.  He showed flashes at RB, but he was never consistent nor gained enough trust to get a lot of touches.

johnnyl65
johnnyl65

@a57se @blackwood1  Okay your position on the current backs is clear as is your position on Idzik but what isn't clear is your position on the topic which is CJ and what value you place on him.

blackwood1
blackwood1

@a57se @blackwood1Yes but they were looking for a 3 down hammer at least that's how I saw it. This time we are looking for a specialty back a burner so I think that simplifies what they need to find in a back, that being speed & good hands. We shall see what comes of it but seeing as we have hammers we will either see CJ come to his senses or the draft if logic prevails will provide us with that specialist.

a57se
a57se

@harold  

The coaches also have a hand in the scouting and ranking of players and Anthony Lynn has been here for all of these picks.......

a57se
a57se

@harold .

Exactly......the scouts themselves have not been replaced except for one that I am aware of.....

harold
harold

@johnnyI65

Most of the scouts are the same.  The changes are mostly at the top.

a57se
a57se

@blackwood1

Your rationale is good but I don't know if I trust the Jets scouting department to actually find a quality RB in the draft......the last few picks we've made at RB have not been all that good.....

2009 we picked the plodding, bad hands RB Shonn Greene

2010 we picked Joe $$$ who never made any impact as a RB except for one game.

2011 we picked Bilal Powell who is a mediocre back-up RB at best.

2012 we picked Terrence Gannaway who didn't make it to the 53 man roster and has since retired.

 Not a track record that inspires confidence..........