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According to Jim Wyatt of the Nashville Tennessean, Johnson is expected to eventually land with the Atlanta Falcons. Whether it is via trade or following the running back’s release remains unknown.
— Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) March 28, 2014
Wyatt cites the recent number of free-agent running backs finding new homes as a reason for the potential swapping of jerseys. In the past week, Knowshon Moreno signed with the Miami Dolphins; Maurice Jones-Drew signed with the Oakland Raiders; and LeGarrette Blount signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In January, Wyatt reported the Titans were planning to release Johnson. Earlier this month, however, Pro Football Talk added a new wrinkle to the story — that instead, the team was shopping the former 2,000-yard rusher.
There has been little to no rumors of teams calling the Titans about Johnson, and he even told the Nashville Tennessean he plans to attend OTAs next month if he is still on the team.
The Falcons rushing attack took a major step back in 2013, as Michael Turner was released and Steven Jackson missed time due to injury. As a result, the team ranked dead last in the league in rushing, tallying just 1,247 yards.
Johnson is coming off of a 2013 campaign in which he managed 1,077 rushing yards and 10 total touchdowns despite playing through a torn meniscus. He’s posted 1,000-plus-yard seasons in each of the past four seasons and has played in all 16 games every year of his career except for his rookie campaign in 2008.
Johnson has three years remaining on is six-year, $55.26 million contract and is due $8 million in 2014 — the highest salary of anyone on the team — which makes him unlikely to be dealt.
Atlanta has about $8.7 million in cap space remaining for the 2014 season, so absorbing Johnson’s contract as is may be too rich for the Falcons. In theory, that kind of bloated salary makes a trade very difficult, so the most likely scenario would be for Johnson to be released, then sign on as an unrestricted free agent.
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