Ken Whisenhunt was hired as the next head coach of the Tennessee Titans earlier this week, and his arrival may signal some major changes for the organization. That could start with running back Chris Johnson.
According to ESPN’s Ed Werder, Johnson is “not likely” to be Whisenhunt’s running back in 2014. That could mean Whisenhunt will keep him on the roster and look to add another back to share the load, but it should be noted that Johnson has three years remaining on the six-year, $55 million contract he signed at the start of the 2011 season. If Johnson isn’t Whisenhunt’s guy, the Titans will likely release him.
After the Titans announced the hiring of Whisenhunt, general manager Ruston Webster would not commit to Johnson being the team’s running back in 2014.
“We just got a new coach,” Webster said Tuesday, via Jim Wyatt of The Tennesseean. “Those are things that we have to talk through, and we’ll do all that. I have been totally focused on this process (hiring a coach) and getting it done as fast as we could.”
Johnson recently stated that he would rather play elsewhere if the Titans can’t find ways to use him “better” with a new head coach. He also said there is no chance he would take a pay cut to remain in Tennessee, so the stepping stones toward a divorce seem to have been laid out.
Whisenhunt is an offensive-minded coach, so I doubt he thinks he needs Johnson in order to succeed. CJ?K can be one of the most explosive backs in the league when he tries, but he rarely gives 100% effort. The Titans would be better off clearing some cap space and starting fresh.