NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans are ready to make Chris Johnson the highest-paid running back in NFL history. The general manager says they just need Johnson to show up in training camp to finalize that extension.
General manager Mike Reinfeldt told The Associated Press on Thursday that Johnson's agent was the first person they called once the NFL's lockout was lifted. The Titans reworked Johnson's contract a year ago to give him more money in 2010 and promised to talk to him again a year later.
But the Titans want Johnson in training camp before negotiating that deal.
"Even though he has two years left on his contract, we'd like him to go in," Reinfeldt said. "He could go to meetings, get to know the new coaches, he can learn the scheme. He doesn't have to practice, but it's something we want to get done.
"Again, we're willing to make him the highest paid running back in the history of the NFL. That's kind of where we are."
Johnson was the 24th overall pick in 2008. But he has more yards rushing (4,598) than any other running back in the NFL over the past three years, was the sixth player in league history to run for at least 2,000 yards in 2009 and is a three-time Pro Bowler.
He has refused to report until he gets a new contract, and Johnson mentioned he'd like $30 million guaranteed for his new contract back in 2010. He missed his 11th day of practice in camp Thursday, and the Titans open the preseason Saturday night against the Minnesota Vikings.
The running back's agent, Joel Segal, was not immediately available for comment. The agent has declined to comment during the contract negotiations.
Reinfeldt said they already have talked about the framework of this new deal for Johnson and think the extension could be wrapped up in a couple weeks. Tennessee has a new coach in Mike Munchak after parting with Jeff Fisher in January, and that means a new offensive coordinator as well.
The general manager was in the Seattle front office when left tackle Walter Jones held out for all of training camp, reported on the Friday before the Seahawks' season opener before starting all 16 games and earning a Pro Bowl berth. But Reinfeldt said the new coaching staff is key here.
"With his position, it's important he's here meeting people," Reinfeldt said. "I don't think he needs to carry the ball 30 times in the preseason to be ready for the regular season. For a running back, it's more important he's here to learn his teammates and learn the offense. Beyond practice time, he's got the natural ability."