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.

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NFL Notes: Mankins requests trade, Dumervil signs tender & McRath busted for PEDs

– According to the Boston Herald and Patriots’ beat writer Mike Reiss, guard Logan Mankins has requested a trade in wake of his current contract situation. Says Makins: “I don’t need to be here anymore. This is about principle with me and keeping your word and how you treat people.”

The Patriots aren’t big on handing out big contracts to guards (or anyone not named Tom Brady for that matter), but it’ll be interesting to see what approach they take now that Mankins has demanded a trade.

– The NFL has suspended Titans linebacker Gerald McRath four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. He was expected to start this season after seeing extensive action last year as a rookie, but now it appears that David Thornton’s job is safe.

Speaking of the Titans, Chris Johnson continues to stay away from mini-camp in hopes that the team will give him a new contract. A resolution doesn’t appear to be in sight, as the Titans wants him to play on his current deal, which still has three years remaining on it. Of course if CJ decides to holdout through training camp, Tennessee could be forced to pony up. Johnson is without a doubt their most productive player.

Elvis Dumervil signed his one-year, $3.168 million tender with the Broncos on Monday. The Denver Post’s Lindsay Jones writes that the two parties will continue to work on a long-term deal, which Dumervil deserves in wake of his performance last season.

– The Vikings re-signed restricted free agent Ray Edwards to a one-year, $2.521 million deal. The defensive end had threatened last month to hold out, but apparently that was just a ploy in hopes of receiving long-term contract. Edwards recorded 51 tackles and 8.5 sacks last season.

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Titans unlikely to re-do Chris Johnson’s contract this year

Chris Johnson wants to be the highest paid offensive player in the league, but based on recent comments made by Titans’ GM Mike Reinfeldt, CJ is going to have to wait a little longer before reaching his big payday.

From the Tennessean:

“Given the circumstances, I don’t think there’s the likelihood anything is going to happen,” Reinfeldt said. “You’re asking me definitely if he’s not going to get (a new contract). I’m not making any definitive statements. I just think he’s a pro and we expect him to honor his contract. Chris has always been a pro, and we expect that to continue.”

Reinfeldt again cited the 30 percent rule, but said the fact that Johnson is just two years into the five-year, $12 million contract he signed in 2008 is also an issue. The Titans haven’t made a habit of re-doing contracts after just two seasons.

The 30 percent rule, a byproduct of the league’s labor issues, stipulates a 30 percent maximum raise of the previous year’s base salary. Because the base salary would be restricted each year in a new contract, the Titans would be forced to pay Johnson guaranteed signing bonus money in the $40 million to $50 million range as part of a market-rate extension.

“There’s limitations on what we can do,” Reinfeldt said. “So it’s definitely an issue.”

Just based on comments made by Reinfeldt and Johnson’s teammates, it doesn’t appear that this will be a big issue. Johnson may wind up holding out until training camp, but you get the impression that he’ll show up later this summer as a sign of good faith.

But sooner or later, the Titans will have to pony up and pay their best player, who is highly underpaid by the way. They may wait to see if there’s a lockout in 2011, but at some point Johnson’s contract will be addressed.

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Johnson prepared to hold out through training camp?

The Titans insist that they don’t have a problem brewing with running back Chris Johnson. He wants more money, but the team doesn’t believe he’ll actually hold out. GM Mike Reinfeldt is even downplaying the issue by noting how Johnson missed much of last year’s offseason voluntary work too, yet still showed up for day one of training camp.

But the cold, hard reality is that the Titans better be ready to dig their heels in, because CJ appears prepared to hold out as long as he can.

After recently speaking with Johnson about the issue, NFL Network analyst Warren Sapp believes that CJ is serious about holding out beyond training camp.

“There’s going to have to be some talking before Chris goes back to Tennessee,” Sapp said. “He’s prepared to take this through training camp.”

The main problem for the Titans, outside of Johnson’s potential holdout of course, is that they’re hamstrung by the league’s “30 percent” rule, which prohibits large raises being given for future base salaries. So if they were to draw up a new deal for Johnson, it would have to be largely bonus-based, which no team wants to do because that money is usually guaranteed.

One of two things will have to happen in order for the Titans and Johnson to settle this problem. Either the Titans are going to have to get creative in coming up with a new contract or Johnson is just going to have to trust that the team will get him a new deal as soon as a new collective bargaining agreement is signed and the “30 percent” rule is lifted. The Titans could roll the dice and hope that Johnson reports to camp without receiving a new contract, but if he doesn’t, they risk losing their most important player for an extended period of time.

Who will blink first?

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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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