HOUSTON - The Houston Texans offseason was set for a makeover. That started with the release of the J.J. Watt earlier this month.
Now, the Texans' backfield has lost a ball carrier.
Texans have released running back Duke Johnson. Johnson, who joined the squad via trade in 2019, was primarily used as a pass-catching back to help Deshaun Watson thrive under center.
Johnson's release comes at no surprise due to his contract situation. The 28-year-old had a non-guaranteed $4.65 million salary entering the 2021 season. He also was due to make another $500,000 per bonuses and could have earned another $400,000 in roster guarantees should he remained on the roster.
Altogether, the Texans will save roughly $5.1 million in cap space this offseason. Johnson finished last season with 235 rushing off 77 carries, 249 receiving yards off 28 receptions and scored two touchdowns.
Although it was expected, there still are questions about what Houston will do with the other Johnson, David. Traded last season as the headline piece in the DeAndre Hopkins deal, the former Arizona Cardinals star struggled to find a rhythm, tallying 691 rushing yards, 314 receiving yards, and eight total touchdowns.
He’s due to make $7.95 million in base salary this year, $2.1 million of which is fully guaranteed should he be cut. If the Texans release or perhaps trade him, Houston would save $6.9 million in cap space. (Another option is to approach David Johnson with an offer of a reduced salary.)
Running back now should be added to the lengthy list of needs this offseason. However, the biggest need of all will be making Deshaun Watson happy.
Moves like this could make or break a team. Johnson was a necessary cap causality cut, but here's hoping this isn't a move to make the disgruntled Watson even more upset.
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