Chris Johnson receiving a harsh lesson about NFL contracts

You do a good job for your employer and you’re compensated. If you do extraordinary work, you’re supposed to get a raise. If you do below average work, you could be reprimanded or worse, you could lose your job.

This is how things are supposed to transpire in the working world, although we all know that it doesn’t always happen that way. Cutbacks cause hard-working people to lose their jobs, while in most cases the higher-ups usually get paid the most to do the least.

In the NFL, players sign non-guaranteed contracts. If they don’t perform or they get hurt, a team has the right to release them and the player won’t see the full amount of their contract. But if a player wants more money, they either have to play out the rest of their deal or force their team’s hand.

That’s the dilemma that Chris Johnson currently finds himself in. Despite having three years left on his current deal, he wants the Titans to offer him more money. He hasn’t participated in any organized team activities this year and even though he said on Monday that he wasn’t upset with his team, recent comments he made on his Twitter page reveal otherwise.

Just got off the phn w/ my agent & its not gd news I’m feeling lk @Revis24 rt now at least dey offering him something dey not offering me nothing

# How do u wnt player 2 honor their contract but the team dont have 2 honor it. If u dont wnt 2 pay a player early dont cut a player early.

Its like how u expect ur players to give they all and put their bodies on the line when you not willing to give them what they deserve

He has a point. A team isn’t obligated to honor a player’s contract, but the player is. If Johnson falls down a flight of stairs tomorrow and breaks every bone in his body, the Titans could cut him without paying off the rest of his deal. But Johnson is expected to honor his current deal, even though he has grossly outperformed it.

But that’s just the way it is in the NFL. Johnson isn’t the only player that has outperformed his current deal, but because of the salary cap (or in the case this year, because of not having a salary cap), teams are forced to make calculated decisions when it comes to personnel.

The Titans don’t want to set a precedent with Johnson by paying him more money despite the fact that he has three years remaining on his current deal. They fear that if they do it with him, other players will come to them looking to renew their contracts just because they had a great season. It’s a slippery slope, which is why it remains unlikely that Johnson will receive a new deal this offseason.

That said, there’s no doubt that Johnson is underpaid in context of NFL salaries. His production over the last two years was outstanding and there’s no doubt the Titans are getting a bargain at his current price. If he holds out through training camp, they could have no choice but to pony up and pay their most productive player.

A great solution would be for the NFL and the player’s union to come together on a performance-based salary structure that would re-set yearly. The most productive players get paid the most, which would give players incentive to perform at their highest level throughout the season. Of course, something like that would be very complicated to set up and would likely never happen, but it’s just a thought.

Until then, however, Johnson will continue to battle the Titans over his contract. The situation doesn’t appear to have a clear solution, so his holdout might last until or even through training camp.

In the meantime, Johnson will just have to come to grips with something that many players have already experienced: the cold, harsh reality of how NFL contracts work.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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