Running back David Johnson’s seldom use over the past few weeks has fuelled speculation that Johnson’s time is up in Arizona
Much to begile of the fantasy community David Johnson’s diminishing role for the Arizona Cardinals continued once again during week thirteen as the 27-year-old played just 15 snaps during the Cardinals 34-7 defeat by the LA Rams. Johnson has been sparsely used since fumbling against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back in week ten.
First year head coach Kliff Kingsbury has done little to address rumours that Johnson has indeed been benched.
“I wouldn’t use the term ‘benched,” Kingsbury told reporters.
“We’re going to play the guy that we feel like gives us the best chance at that time,” he continued. “Game plans change, and roles will change. David is a part of this offense, and we have to find a way to make sure he’s playing at a high level, and we can get him the football.”
“David’s a very good football player, and we’ll try to put him in positions to be successful based upon the game plan week to week,” Kingsbury said. Via Katherine Fitzgerald AZCentral.com
Through the first six weeks of the season Johnson had ammased 613 yards from scrimmage whilst averaging 77.1% of the teams offensive snaps. That number now stands at a lowly 20.75% of the teams offensive snaps through the last four games.
A downturn in production began back in week seven against the New York Giants. Despite being listed as questionable (ankle) going into the game, Johnson played three snaps leaving many wondering what was the point in letting Johnson suit up in the first place?
Johnson missed weeks eight and nine during which the Cardinals scrambled to rearrange a backfield that had also lost Chase Edmonds to a hamstring injury by signing Alfred Morris and Zach Zenner off the street. Just days prior to a divisional matchup against the 49ers, the Cardinals acquired Kenyan Drake in exchange for a 2020 conditional sixth round pick. Drake put in a stunning performance during the 28-25 defeat, averaging 7.33 yards per carry.
Upon is return to full fitness Johnson has continued to play second fiddle to Drake with just eight snaps during the first half of the second encounter against the 49ers in week eleven. Adding insult to injury Johnson now finds himself listed as the backup on the Cardinals depth chart.
How It All Began
Johnson a third round pick during the 2015 draft recorded 15 straight games with over 100 yards from scrimmage during a prolific 2016 campaign. The Northern Iowa product rushed for 1239 yards, 16 touchdowns along with an additional 879 yards receiving and four touchdowns and was named as a first-team All-Pro.
Despite suffering a season ending injury (dislocated wrist) during the third quarter of 2017 season opener against the Detroit Lions. The Cardinals rewarded Johnson with a new three-year $39m contract ($31.8m guaranteed) prior to the 2018 season. The 6ft 1″ 224lb Johnson rewarded the faith shown in him by the organisation with 940 yards rushing, seven touchdowns along with 446 yards receiving and three touchdowns amid a tormentous 3-13 season.
What Next For Johnson?
According to spotrac.com the Cardinals have over $78m available in cap space in 2020 and cutting Johnson comes at a price ($16.2m dead cap). The quandary for Kingsbury and general manager Steve Keim is as follows.
- Resign Kenyan Drake who’s set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2020, and cut Johnson.
- Let Drake walk and give Johnson a second opportunity.
- Resign Drake and trade Johnson (which is unlikely due to his salary $14.25m).
- Keep both, cap space is aplenty.