The New York Jets have inked former Titans running Back Chris Johnson to a two-year deal, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter:
Former Titans RB Chris Johnson reached agreement with Jets on a two-year deal, per league sources.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 16, 2014
The Jets appeared to be the frontrunners for Johnson since his release and are making it official on Wednesday. At first glance it looked like Johnson’s style of running wouldn’t mesh with gang green’s ‘ground-and-pound’ philosophy. But looking deeper into his game and this roster, this adds another dimension to a Jets offense that needs all the help it can get. He compliments the rest of the Jets backfield well and will open up the playbook for offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.
Johnson’s most attractive quality is the fact that he can hit the home run at any time with his speed and elusiveness. We always love the occasional ‘did you just see that?’ highlight and we’ve seen it from Johnson before, including against the Jets. This is all good now:
While these runs are a thing of beauty and something Johnson is always capable of, it doesn’t exactly fit the Jets mold as previously stated. New York is all about running backs hitting the hole hard, gaining as many yards as possible instead of looking for that all-or-nothing play. Johnson’s poor 1.8 yards after contact per carry in 2013 shows you gaining a couple of yards to set your team up for the next play isn’t Johnson’s forte. He doesn’t make many tacklers miss—if they catch him, they’ve likely got him.
However, Rex Ryan and the Jets don’t need Johnson to be the bruiser; they already have one in Chris Ivory. Johnson is a sensible compliment to Ivory’s running style along with the versatile Bilal Powell who can catch balls, use his speed on the ground or grind out yards.
Gang green also has another use for Johnson beside hoping he breaks off a few long ones. He’s by no means a great receiver but his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield makes him a viable option in Morhinweg’s West Coast offense. That could perhaps be why the Jets were the best fit for CJ2K all along. In total, Johnson has 272 catches for 2,003 yards to go with eight touchdowns and will definitely get the chance to run routes in New York. His 42 catches a season ago would’ve ranked second on the Jets, just one behind wide receiver Jeremy Kerley.
Being that Johnson’s skills are on the decline, he wasn’t going to get close to the $8 million he would’ve been due from Tennessee this season. The fact that he left without a deal made it look as if the two sides couldn’t agree monetarily, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to Jets fans. General manager John Idzik is quickly building a reputation as a frugal man and one who’s not willing to overpay. The Jets giving Johnson the second year likely made a difference in negotiations.
The Jets ultimately did well to pull the trigger on a deal with Johnson. Suddenly their backfield is well-rounded and their offense increasingly dangerous. No matter who plays quarterback having Johnson, Ivory and Powell at your disposal puts the Jets offense in a decent position before the draft.
Johnson is looked at as an extremely durable running back and won’t even have to shoulder the load that he needed to in Tennessee, where he rushed for 1,000+ yards in all six seasons and 2,006 yards in 2009. This deal fits the needs of all parties involved and the 28-year old is a formidable addition to a Jets offense that is making its way towards potency in time for 2014.