The negotiations between the Tennessee Titans and their star young running back Chris Johnson hit a major snag this weekend with the Arizona Cardinals signing of wideout Larry Fitzgerald to an 8 year deal that guarantees $50 million and could exceed $120 million over the length of the deal. While great for Fitzgerald, who now catapults to 5th in the league with an annual salary of $15 million, this really puts the Titans in a tough spot concerning their negotiations.
The problem for Tennessee is that they want to make Johnson the highest paid running back in the league while Johnson's camp wants him to be one of the greatest paid skill position players in the NFL. The difference between the two is roughly $5 to $8 million dollars a year, a pretty steep number.
As of right now, the gulf between Johnson and the Titans is still pretty huge, maybe even bigger now because of Fitzgerald's contract, so it's pretty much a case of who's going to blink first and cave some on their demands. Tennessee had the early edge on this, thanks mainly to the preseason success of their running attack without Johnson, but with this latest development this weekend, I'm not so sure that the Titans aren't sweating a little bit.
*What would the Indianapolis Colts look like with someone other than Peyton Manning behind center?
The answer is simple, not very good.
If there is one team in the NFL that is built around one player, it's the Colts who has based their entire offense on Manning's skill and ability to lead. Indy has almost made it a point not to get a strong offensive personality outside of the quarterback position so as to not shake the boat. This thinking, which has led to many successful regular seasons for the Colts, may be their undoing this year as it's looking more and more like Peyton is not going to be ready for the regular season opener.
Coming off of neck surgery, Manning has been unable to participate so far this preseason and his availability for the week 1 opener is in serious doubt. This could spell major trouble for the Colts in a division where the Houston Texans are breathing down their necks and even the Tennessee Titans have shown improvements.
Knowing Manning, who has his own streak of consecutive starts going (over 220), he will be behind center when that first real snap takes place in a couple of weeks but will he still be the sharp, elite quarterback that we have come to expect? That's the million dollar question because if he's not, the Texans may rise up in the South.