In 2016, David Johnson emerged as a top running back, combining for over 2,100 all-purpose yards and 20 touchdowns. With his insane production in 2016, Johnson was selected to his first and only Pro Bowl, along with a First-Team All-Pro nod.
Since that 2016 season, injuries would start to plague his career. In Week 1 of the 2017 season, Johnson broke his wrist and was out the remainder of the season. In 2018, Johnson returned to play all 16 games, but his wrist injury was visible as he rushed for under 1,000 yards and had under 500 yards receiving.
Injuries came about once again this past season that led to the acquisition of running back Kenyan Drake from the Miami Dolphins. Drake took his production up another level with the Cardinals and is expected to re-sign with the team and be the lead back in Arizona.
With the emergence of Drake, this leaves the Cardinals in a tough situation. Johnson is due $10.2 million and comes with a cap hit over $14 million. The past few seasons have proved that it is not smart to break the bank on the RB position. The Cardinals will have a very tough time moving Johnson’s contract, meaning if they were to part ways, it would most likely have to be via release.
If the Cardinals were to release David Johnson, it would be a great fit for both sides. Johnson is a hard-running running back, bringing back that style of running that Kareem Hunt had with the Chiefs, plus his pass-catching abilities. Johnson can catch the ball and be a very effective receiver out of the backfield.
The price would have to be right of course. The Chiefs do not have a lot of flexibility with cap space. There are other priorities on the free agency list as Chris Jones is destined to get paid, as he has proved to be a top interior DL in the league. Along with Jones, Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller are free agents that the Chiefs would like to bring back as well.
David Johnson still has the ability to play at a very high level at the RB position. The Chiefs were dominant in the running game when they had a physical back, such as Kareem Hunt. Adding David Johnson to pair with Damien Williams, who proved he still has the ability to be a solid RB1 for the Chiefs, would solidify the run game.
David Johnson’s future is uncertain, but whatever happens and wherever he ends up, Johnson can still be a top back in the league after signs of greatness the past season. The only question is, “Do the Chiefs open their checkbook to add the veteran running back?”
It wasn’t his wrist that was visible when he failed to produce 1000 yards in 2018. He doesn’t hit the hole with the explosion he had in 2016. And he stops moving his feet after contact. He got paid and fell off. He lost his job this year because Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds ran much harder than him all year.