HOUSTON - The Houston Texans recently began trimming the fat by cutting players with lucrative contracts. They just added more to the 2021 salary cap, but this time in a different way.
The Texans and running back David Johnson agreed to terms on a restructured deal for the 2021 season. Johnson will now play on a one-year deal worth up to $6 million with $4.25 million guaranteed.
Houston's plan was to always lower his wage entering a contract season. Johnson was expected to make $8.512 million in 2021 with only $2.1 million. Instead, he'll play for a lesser final sum, but more guaranteed money in the long-term.
Houston could have saved $6.9 million against the cap by cutting the 29-year-old runner this offseason.
Johnson was the focal point of the DeAndre Hopkins trade a season ago. The Arizona Cardinals sent the former All-Pro to NRG Stadium, along with a 2020 second-round pick and a 2021 fourth-round pick for Hopkins and a 2020 fourth-round selection.
Johnson rushed for 691 yards and six touchdowns for the season. He also tallied 33 receptions for 314 yards and two touchdowns. Johnson also missed a game due to the COVID-19 protocol and three games due to a concussion.
Johnson's production picked up at the season's end. In Week 16 against the Cincinnati Bengals, he rushed a season-high 128 yards and scored two total touchdowns. He followed up with an 84 yard performance in the season finale against the Tennessee Titans.
The Texans finished 4-12 and 31st overall in total rushing.
Caserio and the team wanted to keep Johnson for one more year under new head coach David Culley. Over the past two seasons, Culley worked as an assistant head coach with the Baltimore Ravens, who led the NFL in rushing during that span.
Do Culley and Caserio believe Johnson can return to Pro Bowl form? Time will tell under the new regime.
Houston will save money on Johnson's new deal, but they also save an early draft pick on adding a running back. Here's hoping that the end of 2020 was the start of a promising 2021.