No NFL team has rostered than one 2,000-yard rusher on their roster in the history of their franchise. Per Chris Johnson himself, the Ravens could have been the first. “CJ2K,” an appropriate nickname, admitted regret for not joining the Ravens back in 2014 when he had the chance.
Just thinking to myself how did I pick going to jets over Baltimore Ravens in 2014 ♂️ ♂️ ♂️ what a bad decision !!!!— Chris Johnson (@ChrisJohnson28) April 7, 2020
Baltimore knows well what a legendary feat 2,000+ yards is. Former Ravens RB Jamal Lewis ran for 2,066 yards and 14 touchdowns in a miraculous 2003 season. In that season, he rushed for 295 yards versus the Browns in Week 2, 180 yards on the Bengals in Week 14 and 205 yards against the Browns again in Week 16.
One could argue he owes the Browns a debt of gratitude. Without these monstrous performances against them, he would not have gained the 66 yards needed to be placed in this rarefied air.
So, having two of the most elite rushers in NFL history in purple and black would have been really neat, no doubt, but that does not mean Chris Johnson would have been an elite running back for the Ravens in 2014. His performances for the three seasons prior were strong (1,047 yards in 2011, 1,243 yards in 2012, and 1,077 yards in 2013) but nowhere near his prime and representative of a general decline that continued. Johnson bottomed out with the Jets in an abysmal 2014 performance where he totaled only 663 rushing yards.
Let’s compare that to what happened in Baltimore. Ozzie Newsome and the front office, starved for someone to carry the ball went to the deepest depths to find a quality rusher. No one could have anticipated what happened as Justin Forsett, who ran for a combined 550 yards in his previous three seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars, racked up 1,266 yards in 2014 alone.
That’s nearly twice as much as Johnson’s 663 yards for the Jets in the same year. But the kicker is that Forsett did it on a budget — $730,000, compared to Johnson’s $1 million salary plus a $2.5 million signing bonus.
In retrospect, while it definitely is exciting to think about what Johnson could have done for the Ravens, the numbers, both the rushing yards and the salary hit, should have Ravens fans counting their blessings for yet another example of acquiring high levels of production for a fraction of the cost.