NEW YORK (AP) Former Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson visited the New York Jets on Tuesday, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press.
Johnson was officially released by the Titans on April 7, three days after the team informed him. The former 2,000-yard rusher met with the team at its facility Tuesday, according to the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the Jets don’t make player visits public.
Johnson spent six years at Tennessee and became one of the NFL’s most exciting and dangerously fast running backs. The Jets are looking to add another playmaker to their backfield and envision Johnson teaming with Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell.
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Johnson, who turns 29 in September, is only the sixth player to rush for 1,000 yards in each of his first six seasons. But there have been questions about whether he’ll ever be the same player who rushed for 2,006 yards in 2009, when he earned his ”CJ2K” nickname.
Johnson finished with 1,077 yards – the second-lowest total of his career – and a career-worst 3.9-yard average last season. He also rushed for 100 or more yards just twice, including the regular-season finale in which he had 127 yards to go over the 1,000-yard mark.
ESPN first reported Johnson’s visit with the Jets on Tuesday.
While his days as a workhorse running back – he carried the ball more than 300 times in 2009 and 2010 – might be over, Johnson could be the perfect complement in coach Rex Ryan’s backfield. Under new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, the Jets finished sixth in the league in rushing last year with Ivory and Powell sharing the load.
Despite the solid production, New York is still looking to improve the position with a big-time runner who could serve as a potential No. 1 back with the powerful Ivory and versatile Powell creating a three-headed backfield. The Jets also have Mike Goodson, who is dealing with legal issues and recovering from torn knee ligaments, and Alex Green.
The Titans cut ties with Johnson to avoid paying the $8 million he was due for this season, along with the final three seasons left on the $53.5 million contract he signed in 2011. Johnson, who set several franchise and NFL records during his time in Tennessee, repeatedly said he wouldn’t take a pay cut this offseason.
That prompted the Titans to unsuccessfully explore trade options this offseason. Johnson’s exit appeared inevitable when Tennessee signed Dexter McCluster to a three-year deal and re-signed Leon Washington to join Shonn Greene in the backfield.
After being told of Tennessee’s intentions to cut him, Johnson thanked the Titans and their fans.
”I have grown so much as an individual and as teammate over the past few years, and I am excited about the opportunity to bring my experience and talents to a new organization,” he said in a statement. ”I’m looking forward to the next chapter and can’t wait to contribute to my new team.”
AP Sports Writer Teresa Walker in Nashville, Tenn., contributed to this report.
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