The running back free agent market is a sad state. Three weeks into the offseason and marquee players are just now starting to sign. Runing backs like Knowshon Moreno and LeGarette Blount who are coming off career-high seasons are not earning the money they were expecting. So as the free agency market struggles, what does that mean for players seeking a trade?
Chris Johnson is ready for a change of scenery. The Tennessee Titans are ready for a new running back. However after being dangled as trade bait for weeks, not a single team is biting. The running back is due $8 million in the upcoming season and while he is not the same star he once was, no one is willing to make a deal for him. Johnson has stressed that he is healthy and ready to work out for any team searching for a running back, but no one is calling.
Johnson is playing the situation very smart. He is not pressuring the Titans to make a move, knowing that if he does they will simply release him which could result in early retirement. Instead, Johnson is saying that he fully intends on showing up to offseason workouts which begin in April and will work with team decide his future.
So if there is going to be a trade of Johnson, which is unlikely, who makes it? The Miami Dolphins took care of their running back situation by signing Moreno. The Oakland Raiders handled their ground game by getting Maurice Jones-Drew. The Pittsburgh Steelers are hoping to handle their rotation by signing LeGarrette Blount. That leaves the New England Patriots as an option and possibly the Jacksonville Jaguars to make a deal.
The Patriots worked with a three-man rotation last season after bringing in Blount for the year. Losing Blount means their rotation relies on Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden. Acquiring Johnson would certainly boost the run game for the Patriots.
The Jacksonville Jaguars lost Jones-Drew. The team only has Toby Gerhart now to handle the ground game and need another man. Gerhart is not a star that can be a one-man show for an offense that is already struggling. Johnson would be an excellent to run in tandem with Gerhart.
At this point, it seems unlikely that any team will make a trade for Johnson and his high salary. If the Titans are ready to move on, they will simply release the veteran. Johnson may have better luck as a free agent if he is willing to sign for cheap.