Holler: Vikings should consider Chris Johnson

Chris Johnson (Don McPeak/USA TODAY)

The Vikings could have quite a one-two punch at running back with Chris Johnson backing up Adrian Peterson. Is that worth at least making an offer in a buyer's market?

Sometimes a stupid solution can be the best solution.

NFL.com, in a slow news times, is devoting an inordinate amount of attention to what teams might be interested in new free agent running back Chris Johnson. Johnson was released by Tennessee midway through his second NFL contract, which was signed after he ran for 2,000 yards and said, "Pay me more!" They did.

The Titans regretted it soon thereafter. In October 2012, when the Titans played at the Metrodome, Viking Update ran into a compadre with deep ties and asked a simple question. "Is C.J. done there [Tennessee] at the end of the year?" His answer was an unequivocal "yes."

Johnson stayed one more season, but the lifting was getting heavier. By cutting him, the franchise saved $4 million.

Seeing as the Titans had grown tired of CJ2K's antics for a while, it didn't seem the release was matter of "if," but "when," their relationship would terminate. A fat roster bonus cemented the departure.

As part of the "let's jump on this" news, the league's official website asked its other 31 team affiliates to weigh in on the interest in Johnson.

Two teams – the Jets and the Rams – were viewed as having medium interest. The other 29 were listed as low.

Of the interest level scale, there must be a level of high – considering that low and medium are clearly in play.

Nobody has a high interest in Johnson and, from the reports from the field, only two teams have a medium interest.

Why not the Vikings?

This wouldn't break new ground. When LaDainian Tomlinson was sent packing by the same organization that had as its head coach Norv Turner, he made a stop in Minnesota. After dining and meeting with the Vikings, and conducting interviews outside a staked-out steakhouse, Tomlinson said, "Thanks, but no."

This time around, it's a very different situation. Tomlinson had been the recognized capo de capo of NFL running backs before Peterson put his legacy stamp on that throne. Johnson is still in the prime of his career. But, when LT was running roughshod over the NFL, running backs were still being given what was deemed "Emmitt Smith/Barry Sanders" money. Times have changed.

With the Vikings QB situation sketchy at best, what would be so wrong, given a new coaching staff and an offensive mindset of run-to-set-up-the-pass history?

It would be the last big signing they would make with $11 million in salary- cap space and needing $5 million to $6 million for their rookie contracts. Ideally, both would be healthy and Vikings would thumb their nose at the QB-centric NFL. They glove-slap the notion that they're going to run 40-50 times a game. Stop it if you can.

Considering what the Vikings were willing to spend to look under the hood of Josh Freeman, in a stupid way, it makes too much sense for the Vikings to at least make an offer to Johnson.

In the process, they could change the way NFL football is played.


John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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