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Titans, Chris Johnson agree on four-year extension

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By PFW staff

Updated Sept. 5, 2011 @ 10:03 p.m. ET

The Titans and RB Chris Johnson agreed to a four-year contract extension Thursday, according to PFW Titans correspondent and The Tennessean writer Jim Wyatt.

The extension will pay Johnson $53.35 million, including $30 million in guaranteed money. Johnson will earn an average of $13.3 million per year in "new money" through the length of the deal, according to Andrew Brandt of National Football Post. When the extension is combined with the two years remaining on Johnson's rookie contract, it becomes a six-year, $56 million deal, for an annual average of $9.3 million, according to Brandt.

The fourth-year back had been holding out of training camp in his quest for a new contract. He had two years and $2.65 million remaining on his rookie deal.

The Titans and GM Mike Reinfeldt made it no secret they were willing to make Johnson the highest-paid running back in the game, but Johnson reportedly wanted to be paid like the league's top playmaker.

Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald got an eight-year, $120 million extension with $50 million guaranteed, an average of $15 million per year. That average tied him with Raiders DE Richard Seymour for the highest per-year salary for a non-quarterback.

Johnson rushed for 1,364 yards and 11 touchdowns last season after leading the league in rushing in 2009 with 2,006 yards and 14 scores.

The way we see it

Johnson appears to have gotten the lucrative contract he was looking for, and keeping it at four years is a good move for the Titans. Running backs, because of their shorter shelf life, generally don't get giant contracts.

This is big news for the Titans, as Johnson is far and away their best player and top offensive weapon. If Johnson can get up to speed quickly, the Titans, who will maintain a strong running identity under new coordinator Chris Palmer, should be in good shape with the explosive Johnson and with all five starters returning along the offensive line. 

One key factor in Johnson's new deal is that he is now under contract with the Titans through the 2016 season, as his new deal is a four-year extension tacked on to the end of his rookie contract.

Both sides made concessions in order to make the deal possible. Johnson was originally looking for $35 million guaranteed, with an average annual salary of at least $13.5 million. While he didn't quite achieve those goals, the Titans reached much further into their pockets than they had originally planned.

This deal should have an impact on other top backs in the league, namely Adrian Peterson, whose contract is up at the end of this season. 49ers RB Frank Gore got his extension earlier this week, and Bears RB Matt Forté is looking for a new deal, as well.

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