David Johnson faces an uncertain future with the Arizona Cardinals, with the team decreasing his role in the offense as the season progressed. Johnson has lost his role as the featured back, being relegated to mop-up duty over the past several weeks.
Johnson is owed $26.25 million over the next two years of his contract and is currently the fourth-highest paid running back in the league, so the Cardinals will have a decision to make on their high-priced backup. Cardinals general manager Steve Keim provided some insight on what the team plans with Johnson, even if he wasn’t fully transparent.
“Those are the kind of conversations that will certainly be held internally,” Keim said in the “Doug and Wolf” show on 98.7 FM, via the Cardinals website. “I’m not going to have them on the radio. I will say this: We’ll take a deep dive into this roster and take a look at every guy. Not only their contract situation, but as I said earlier, identifying the core of players moving forward and making sure we can build around them.”
Johnson expressed his frustration regarding his role in the Cardinals offense over the past several weeks. He’s played just 73 snaps over the past four games since returning to the lineup in Week 10 from knee and ankle injuries. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury made Johnson the forgotten man in Arizona as he had just 13 carries for 38 yards during the stretch. Sunday was Johnson’s most productive game since October, as he got three carries for 19 yards and two catches for 34 yards and a touchdown in 21 snaps, the majority of which came later in the game.
“Any NFL player, any competitor, if you’re not on the field, you’re obviously going to be upset about it,” Johnson said earlier in the week. “I’m really just trying to finish this season off week by week. I’m really just trying to, like I’ve been saying, get back on that playing field.”
Johnson has 89 carries for 336 yards and two touchdowns this season, averaging 3.8 yards per carry. He also has 35 catches for 366 yards and four touchdowns, despite playing a limited role. The Cardinals may not be willing to give up on Johnson yet, especially since Kingsbury was impressed with what he saw from him Sunday.
“He knows what he can be when he’s playing at a high level, and I think everybody else does,” Kingsbury said. “We’ve just got to keep him rolling and keep him in a groove.”