Brace yourselves. Each NFL team has a busy couple of days ahead of them as they partake in the process of establishing their initial 53-man rosters. Each team must trim down to that number before the NFL’s 4 p.m. ET deadline on Tuesday.
We’ve already seen a flurry of activity over the past few days, and things will continue to heat up on Monday and Tuesday. The Houston Texans figure to be one of the busiest organizations this week. They traded pass-rusher Shaq Lawson to the New York Jets less than 48 hours ago, and are now rumored to be open to listening to trade offers for pretty much “any of their veterans,” per Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer.
Veteran running back David Johnson immediately comes to mind for a number of reasons. Firstly, the Texans went out and acquired three proven backs this offseason in the form of Mark Ingram, Phillip Lindsay, and Rex Burkhead. It wasn’t exactly a ringing endorsement for Johnson, who has been with the Texans for just a single season.
Johnson barely featured in the preseason. He carried the ball a total of five times in three exhibition games. Before you counter with “starters don’t need to play in the preseason,” remember that the bond between Ingram and Texans head coach David Culley has been well documented this summer. After all, Ingram and Culley spent the 2019 and 2020 seasons together in Baltimore, and it was no surprise to see them reunite in Houston this offseason. All signs point to Ingram receiving the bulk of the carries in the Texans’ backfield this campaign.
This is why the Texans should trade Johnson in the coming days.
Houston’s new regime has no ties to Johnson as a player. It wasn’t general manager Nick Caserio or Culley that acquired him in the first place. The trio of moves made by Caserio and Culley at the running back position over the past few months sends a strong message regarding how low their opinion of Johnson is, even if they won’t come out and say it.
Johnson didn’t have a particularly strong season in 2020. He was healthy for just 12 games and ran for less than 700 yards. It wasn’t the first time we’ve seen Johnson struggle with injury. He’s played in 74 of a possible 96 games during his first six years in the league. With that said, there should still be suitors for Johnson. He has a dual-threat skill set as a runner and a receiver, and is more than capable in pass protection as well. There’s always a role to be found for a guy like that in today’s league.
A trade out of Houston would represent yet another fresh start for Johnson, who was traded to the Texans along with second and fourth-round picks in exchange for star receiver DeAndre Hopkins and a fourth-round pick less than 18 months ago. The trade made little-to-no sense for Houston at the time, and it makes even less sense now.
But Caserio and Culley shouldn’t be weighed down by the mistakes of someone else’s past. Seeing Johnson get traded for what would likely be a future day-three pick would sting for Texans fans because they know what the franchise gave up for him in the first place. But that shouldn’t stop Caserio and Culley from doing the right thing this week.