With the free agency market coming to a crawl, a big name came free on Monday after the Tennessee Titans released Chris Johnson. Johnson is a veteran running back in his seventh season who has run over 1,000 yards every year, including a 2,000 yard season in 2009. Despite the fact that Dallas Cowboys starter DeMarco Murray is coming off his best season with 1,121 yards, he still has yet to play a full 16-game season. In contrast, Johnson has missed just one game in the seven seasons of football, accounting for 95 games with nearly 8,000 yards in his career.
Johnson had a rough time last year gaining the yards last season as he had 3.9 yards per carry. This was also during a 16-game season albeit. Murray had an average of 5.2 in a 14-game season, the most he games has had in his career for one season. When Murray went down last season, so did the running game. The Cowboys had a good backup but he was also injured in Lance Dunbar. Dunbar started strong but ended his season with a knee injury after having a Thanksgiving Day game to remember with 6.8 yard per carry performance against the Oakland Raiders.
What are the benefits of a Chris Johnson on the roster? For one thing, there would be some stability at the running back position. It is pretty sad that when I played Madden 25 for the first 3 times as the Cowboys, Murray was injured all three times. Talk about a video game mocking reality? Murray did have a good season last year but still leaves Dallas in the lurch with his injury problems. Getting Johnson on board would be a positive as he could start and Murray could spell him during the course of the game. He is going to be 29 years old in the NFL so he has a couple of good seasons left in him before he starts reaching the dreaded retirement age by NFL standards of somewhere in the 30’s.
Murray’s durability may benefit from Johnson’s presence. He could actually have a chance to play every game on the schedule for once. Not being the featured back may just very well be what Murray needs to complete a season. Plus, Dallas could also not have to focus so much on the passing game when falling behind.
Dallas has indicated in a recent article that they are not interested in the running back and that they are happy with Murray behind the quarterback. The question to ask: Is this the right move?
Dallas will be scratching their heads and wishing they jumped on the chance at Johnson for if and when Murray falls to another injury. I don’t wish any one any type of injury but history isn’t on the side of Murray. His inability to stay healthy has been a contributing factor to three 8-8 finishes. Without consistency at the running game, the team is looking at more problems getting past that .500-mark.
Johnson does also have the problem of financials but the Cowboys have made it work in the past, team owner/GM/President Jerry Jones can figure a way to make the salary cap work in their favor for a player like Johnson.
Opportunities like a player like Johnson don’t happen like this very often this late in free agency, making a signing like this will show fans how serious Jones is to wanting to win.