Faulk: Johnson worth a bigger deal

Updated: May 18, 2010, 9:04 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Chris Johnson has skipped the Tennessee Titans' voluntary practices this offseason as he hopes to get a bigger contract after his 2,000-yard 2009 season. One of the best running backs in NFL history applauds his stance.

Marshall Faulk told The (Nashville) Tennessean that Johnson is doing the right thing.

"Without a doubt, if more money is what he wants, he has to hold out," Faulk, who is now an NFL Network analyst, told the newspaper. "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 when the Titans take part in their fifth practice of the offseason Tuesday.

Johnson has three years left on the $12 million contract he signed in 2008 that featured $7 million guaranteed. But his base salary for 2010 doesn't even put him close to being one of the best-paid players on the Titans, let alone the NFL. Johnson is due $550,000 for 2010.

Faulk told The Tennessean that Johnson has to use his leverage with the Titans while he still has it.

"Chris has outplayed his rookie deal. He has beyond exceeded the expectation where he was drafted,'' Faulk told the newspaper. "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."

Johnson also has some online fan support in his bid for a big pay hike. A new petition titled "Pay CJ2K (Get Chris Johnson A New Contract)" has been set up to support Johnson and had 64 signatures by Tuesday afternoon. Johnson retweeted the link Tuesday to his more than 73,000 followers on Twitter.

The running back, picked No. 24 overall in 2008, started talking of wanting more money as he wrapped up his second season as The Associated Press' 2009 Offensive Player of the Year.

"That's something my agent has got to take care of, my agent and upstairs," Johnson said in January, the day after the season ended. "I'm not sure. I need to get [owner] Bud Adams' number."

Johnson ran 358 times for 2,006 yards as the NFL's leading rusher, 590 yards more than Steven Jackson of the St. Louis Rams.

Johnson also set the single-season record for yards from scrimmage with 2,509, topping Faulk's mark of 2,429 set in 1999 with St. Louis. He became the first player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards and catch 500 yards in the same season.

He also became the first player in NFL history to rush for three touchdowns of 85 yards or longer in a career, which he did in one season. Through two seasons, Johnson ranks third in NFL history with 3,234 yards to start his career. Only Eric Dickerson (3,913) and Edgerrin James (3,262) ran for more in their first two seasons.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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