Chris Johnson leaves Jets without contract

Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Free agent running back Chris Johnson met with the New York Jets this week, leaving the team facilities without a deal in place. From reports, the two sides are several million dollars apart in negotiations.

Running back Chris Johnson was released by the Tennessee Titans last year, putting a six-year veteran, who has never failed to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark for a season, on the market. Several teams, inlcluding the Miami Dolphins, were said to be considering a trade for Johnson prior to his release, with several more being linked to him now that he is a free agent.

Johnson had his first free agent visit yesterday, spending time with the New York Jets. Reports indicated the meeting between Johnson and the Jets, which included atending the New York Knicks at Brooklyn Nets basketball game, was productive. The visit, however, ended without a contract in place.

Florida Today reporter Erika Esola has indictaed that Johnson is looking for at least a two-year contract worth $10 million. The Jets, meanwhile, are offering somewhere between $3-4 million per season. In the current NFL market, starting running backs are usually landing contracts in the $3-$3.5 million per year range. The days of $13.7 million a season for Adrian Peterson or $9 million for LeSean McCoy seem to be in the past. The top 11 running back contracts, in terms of average salary per year, are all over $5 million, but they were all signed in 2012 or earlier. Reggie Bush is the highest paid running back who signed a contract in 2013 or 2014, joining the Detroit Lions for $4 million per year over four seasons, making him the 15th highest salaried running back in the league.

The Dolphins signed Knowshon Moreno, coming off the best season of his five year career, to a one-year, $3.275-million contract this offseason.

A deal between the Jets and Johnson could still be reached, but the running back is said to be interested in visiting more teams before deciding which club to join for 2014. There remain rumors that the Dolphins could still be interested in signing Johnson, despite Moreno joining the franchise. If Johnson sticks to his $5 million per season demands, however, the Dolphins would likely end those negotiations quickly.

For more on Johnson and the Jets, check out SB Nation's Gang Green Nation.
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