The Tennessee Titans have informed running back Chris Johnson that the team will release him Friday.
Johnson rushed for almost 8,000 yards in his six seasons as a Titans. He surpassed the 1,000-yard mark in each of his seasons.
"As an organization, we want to thank Chris for his contributions to the Titans," said Titans General Manager Ruston Webster. "Chris produced many memorable moments, broke franchise records and was durable over his six-year career."
Johnson burst onto the national landscape during his second year with the Titans when he rushed for 2,006 yards and scored 16 touchdowns.
He was drafted by the Titans in the first round, 24th pick overall, in the 2008 NFL Draft out of East Carolina.
"We have had an open dialogue with Chris' agent, Joel Segal, over the last few weeks, and we appreciate the patience and professionalism they have shown throughout the process," said Webster. "We made an effort to trade Chris but were unable to do so.
"We wish Chris the best and thank him for the six seasons he spent with us."
For his career, Johnson has rushed for 7,965 yards and scored 50 touchdowns rushing. He's also caught eight touchdown passes, including a career best four in 2013.
Johnson's release had been inevitable since the end of the season. The running back was expected to earn $8 million this year and had three seasons left on the $53.5 million contract he signed in September 2011. Team officials had asked Johnson if he would renegotiate his contract to take a pay cut, but he had refused.
During the off-season, the Titans had signed Dexter McCluster to a three-year deal at the start of the free agent signing period. The team also resigned running backs Jackie Battle and Leon Washington, who also returns kicks. Shonn Greene, who was one of Johnson's backups last year, joined the Titans in March 2013.
Johnson's release comes before the Titans start their offseason program Monday with new coach Ken Whisenhunt.
Johnson has the most touchdown runs of 80 yards or longer in NFL history with six - twice the total of anyone else in a group including Adrian Peterson, Barry Sanders and O.J. Simpson. He also has 12 career TD runs of at least 45 yards, trailing only Sanders (18) and Jim Brown (13) in that category.
He is just the sixth player to rush for 1,000 yards in each of his first six seasons, along with Sanders, Curtis Martin, LaDainian Tomlinson, Eric Dickerson and Corey Dillon.
But Johnson has fallen far short of the 2,006-yard season he posted in 2009, the sixth man to rush for at least 2,000 yards. He earned the nickname CJ2K for such exploits, but last season he went until the final game to top 1,000 and finished with 1,077 yards - the second lowest total of his career. He also had a career-low 3.9-yard average.
He was at his best catching 42 passes for 345 yards with four TDs, including a long of 66 yards.
Copyright 2014 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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