Out of Tennessee's All Pro running back Chris Johnson, Philadelphia's speedy wideout DeSean Jackson and Indianapolis' veteran receiver Reggie Wayne, who do you feel is most deserving of a new contract?
While Jackson and Johnson are both currently holding out of camp, Wayne has opted not to. But that doesn't mean he isn't pushing the Colts for a new deal.
In my personal opinion, I really don't think there's any question about who is most deserving. It's Tennessee's Chris Johnson.
Wayne, 32, is the most proven of the three and isn't after a large contract at this point in his career. Jackson and Johnson are both young risers looking for their due, which translates to multi-year, multi-million deals. But that doesn't mean they don't deserve to be paid like an elite player. If Philly and Tennessee do not step up to the plate, they could see these guys walk at the end of 2011.
All signs point towards Jackson ending his holdout by Tuesday–the deadline for players under contract to report if they plan on being an unrestricted free agent after this season.
Jackson, 24, is entering his fourth season, coming off back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons, but a new deal is unlikely to come Jackson's way before Tuesday, so it is very possible he will test the free agent market next off-season.
As for Chris Johnson, no one really seems to have any idea what will happen with this dispute. According to profootballweekly.com, General Manager Mike Reinfeldt has stated that Johnson must report to camp before the two sides can talk business.
I read that article (posted by PFW's staff) three days ago, and still no Johnson at camp. This may get very interesting.
All indications leave me believing that Wayne will be the one most likely to get a deal first. He has yet to show signs of slowing down (two straight seasons with 100+ receptions) and I highly doubt he will until future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning hangs his cleats up. A two or three year deal should be coming Wayne's way at season's end.
My prediction for Jackson is that he will end his holdout and report on Tuesday, and the two sides will come up with a new deal at the end of 2011 as well.
It's Johnson's contract situation that is most intriguing. Both sides are pretty set on their intentions, and Johnson–one of the most talented backs in the league–knows he's worth big bucks. Whether or not Tennessee will be willing to satisfy his demands is a whole different story.
Johnson is set to make just $1.5 million this season, so it's rather obvious why he's holding out for a new deal. Johnson–being underpaid by a long-shot–has run for a total of 4,598 yards and 34 touchdowns in his first three professional seasons. He is one of six players in league history to break 2,000 yards in a season.
For the casual fan, $1.5 million may be a huge number, so let me give you a little comparison:
According to sportscity.com, Johnson's 2010 salary was $800,000...Minnesota's star running back Adrian Peterson (ran for less yards than C.J. in '10) made $7,720,000.
Now I don't know about you, but I would like to think a guy who runs for 2,000 yards in one season deserves to be paid like a superstar. Running backs have a short lifespan in the NFL, so that could slow down Tennessee in making a decision. Carolina reached a five-year deal with 28 year old DeAngelo Williams at the end of July, therefore there's no question Johnson will not be happy until he gets at least as much as Williams' five-year, $43 million ($21 million guaranteed) deal.
Most likely to happen first: Reggie Wayne
Most deserving: Chris Johnson
**Photos found on Google, no copyright infringement intended**