Running back David Johnson will not be cut by the Arizona Cardinals this offseason, general manager Steve Keim has confirmed.
Johnson was an All-Pro in 2016 after accruing 2,118 all-purpose yards and, despite missing 15 of the 16 games the next season, he was given a three-year $39million deal on the eve of the 2018 season.
However, Johnson has failed to live up to that contract since, rushing for just 1,285 yards combined across the past two campaigns and losing his starting spot to Kenyan Drake last season when the Cards acquired him in a trade with the Miami Dolphins.
Arizona want to keep Drake, who is due to enter free agency, but Johnson is owed a guaranteed $10m in 2020 and has a salary cap hit of more than $14m, so Keim acknowledged it does not make financial sense to move on from the 28-year-old.
“Cutting him is not an option,” Keim told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
“Not only the cap hit, but you’re still paying him the cash as well, and it wouldn’t be responsible for me or the organisation for me to do that.
“Surrounded by enemies, I know they praying for my down fall. They really want to see the end of me, know I won’t fold imma stand tall!” pic.twitter.com/alcPFUKGEV
— David Johnson (@DavidJohnson31) December 11, 2019
“If David Johnson isn’t the starter, he still has a significant role. He still creates big-time mismatches in the passing game, he still brings kick-return ability.
“There are a number of things, and you can’t just have one back. You have to have a platoon of backs. We’ve seen that. So there are enough carries to go around.”
Johnson was drafted by Keim in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft after Arizona missed out on their preferred target Ameer Abdullah to the Detroit Lions.
It looked like a stroke of good fortune after two seasons and Keim is hopeful Johnson can still deliver on the gridiron, though he would not discuss the possibility of a trade.
“I still have a lot of faith in David,” Keim added.
“He’s got tremendous skills, he’s a great person, he works extremely hard.
“I think it was one of those things [last season], if you look at the big picture, Chase [Edmonds] got hurt, David got hurt, we made the trade [for Drake], and Kenyan Drake came in and he got the hot hand.”