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Is Chris Johnson set to hold out?

The Titans have a potential problem brewing in regards to running back Chris Johnson, who was not present on Tuesday for the team’s first practice of the offseason.

The 24-year-old Johnson wants a new contract, but the Titans are hamstrung by the “30 percent” rule, which prohibits large raises of future base salaries. Even if the team wanted to pay Johnson, it would have to come up with a deal that was largely bonus-based, which is something the team would ultimately like to avoid.

GM Mike Reinfeldt recently said that he doesn’t expect Johnson to hold out and noted that Chris “has been a pro from Day 1.” But even though he missed much of last year’s offseason voluntary work, Johnson never missed a practice so there is cause for concern.

No running back was more productive than Johnson was last season. He rushed for 2,006 yards and 14 touchdowns, while also hauling in 50 receptions for 503 yards and two scores. The Titans are well aware that he’s their best offensive weapon and would be wise to lock him up long term as soon as they can. But as of right now, Johnson may have to settle for his $550,000 salary in 2010, even though he’s highly underpaid compared to the rest of the backs in the league.


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